TRAVEL TIPS 9: Technology Security. Stay Alert, Stay Safe!

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Traveling can present some unique security challenges. If you are planning a domestic or international trip, keep these items in mind:

1) Make sure you’ve backed up any important data before traveling.
Ensure that you’ve backed up any important data before traveling. If something happens to your devices while traveling you won’t be able to get the data back without a backup.

2) Keep your devices with you and within sight at all times.
It doesn’t take long for a laptop, smartphone, or tablet to be stolen. This is particularly important in busy and crowded places such as: buses, subways, airports, and at conferences.

3) Are you traveling with sensitive or confidential information?
Only travel with the data that you absolutely need. If you don’t need it, don’t take it. Check with your division to see if they offer blank loaner laptops that you can use while traveling instead of bringing your own. If you are traveling with data on a flash drive, ensure that you’re using an approved encrypted flash drive.

4) Ensure that your laptop is encrypted.
Laptop encryption will ensure that your data won’t be accessible if it is lost or stolen.

5) Are you traveling with anything that is subject to export controls?
It is illegal in some cases to bring certain software or hardware to other countries. Check the country technology laws first.

6) Beware of public computers.
Avoid using public computers in places like hotels and Internet cafes whenever possible. If you have to use one, ensure that you change any password that you entered on a public computer when you return from your travels.

7) Ensure that your computer is up-to-date and running antivirus software.
Before traveling, make sure that you’ve installed all of the latest updates from Microsoft or Apple, and ensure that you are running good antivirus software (such as kaspersky, norton antivirus, mcafee, avg, etc.)

8) Enable a firewall on your computer.
Make sure that you have a firewall enabled on your computer. A firewall will help protect your computer while connected to insecure networks.

9) Only connect to trusted wireless networks.
Avoid joining just any available wireless network. Only connect to those networks that you know are legitimate (such as those provided by a hotel).

10) Avoid using insecure websites on wireless networks.
It’s easy for someone to listen in to what you’re doing on an open wireless network. Most networks that you’ll use while traveling are open. Make sure that if you’re logging into websites while on open network that your connection is secure. This is usually denoted by the presence of a lock icon in your browser, or “https://” in front of the address you’re visiting.

When you hit the road, it’s easy to get paranoid, especially if you’re carrying thousands of dollars’ worth of technology with you. You can alleviate some of your worries by taking security measures to protect yourself against someone running off with your smartphone, tablet, or laptop.

A) Password Protect Your Devices

What if a thief does get your device—is the trouble just beginning? It might be, if you haven’t bothered with basic methods for protecting your data.

1) Passcode lock your phone and tablet.
Just because someone gets your phone or tablet, doesn’t necessarily mean he also gets unrestricted access to all your email messages, all your contacts. Even if you don’t normally use a passcode or a screen or sleep lock, enable it before you travel. On Android 3 and later, Windows Phone 8, and iOS 4 and later, locking a phone or tablet prevents both access to the device and protects the data storage on it through encryption.

 

2) Password protect your laptop.
Do you really want to join the ranks of people who’ve compromised work data by leaving a laptop unattended and unprotected??

(i) If you’re using a MacBook, launch the Keychain Access utility (in your /Applications/Utilities folder), and then select Keychain Access > Preferences. Select the Show keychain status in menu bar option. Now, whenever you step away from your computer, you can choose the lock icon in the menu bar and pick Lock Screen. Make this process automatic by going to System Preferences and opening the Security & Privacy pane. Click the General tab and select the Require password option immediately after sleep or screen saver begins. You can adjust the time period using the drop-down menu here.

Requiring a password after sleep or a period of time can prevent someone from gaining access to your machine when you leave it unattended.

(ii) You can lock a Windows 7 and 8 laptop by pressing Windows-L. Automatic locking can be set via selecting Start > Control Panel (Windows 7) or right-clicking the screen’s bottom-left corner and picking Control Panel. Select Personalization and click Screen Saver. The Wait box allows you to choose how long to wait before a password is required to gain access. You can also automatically lock on sleep through the Power Options control panel.

B) Encrypt for Maximum Protection

If you want to make sure that your computer’s data isn’t accessible to a more-than-casual snooper or to a thief who has all the time in the world, your best bet is full-disk encryption (FDE). FDE creates a strong encryption key, which it uses to encipher your entire hard drive. The key is held in memory while you’re in an active running session, and tossed whenever you shut down.

An FDE-protected system can only be backed up while it’s active. But this prevents anyone (including governments and you) from recovering your data without a login account and password or an appropriate passcode.

1) Try full-disk encryption for Mac OS X.
Since Lion, Apple has provided built-in full-disk encryption through FileVault 2. You can’t recover a FileVault-protected disk’s data without an account and password. (See “Complete guide to FileVault 2 in Lion,” still applicable in Mountain Lion.) (If you don’t like the configuration and options available from Apple, there’s also Sophos SafeGuard).

2) Try full-disk encryption for Windows.
BitLocker is a built-in FDE for Windows Vista (Business), 7 (Enterprise and Ultimate), and 8 (Pro). Third-party FDE software comes from Check Point, McAfee, Sophos, Symantec, Win Magic, DiskCryptor.net, and others. TrueCrypt, a free open-source product, also offers FDE under Windows (but not Mac OS X).

3) Encrypt other drives and files.
You can also encrypt external drives, virtual drives (disk images), and individual files using TrueCrypt (Mac and Windows), Mac OS X’s built-in Disk Utility (Mac), and other free and paid tools. Apple added external disk encryption in the Finder in Mountain Lion, too. See “Encrypt any disk in Mountain Lion.”

4) Rely on built-in mobile encryption.
Nearly all iOS devices have hardware encryption built in. When the passcode is active, data is unrecoverable unless a device is jail broken or otherwise compromised. This protection is automatic, and is only absent from the original iPhone, iPhone 3G, and first two iPod touch generations. Hardware encryption also allows a quick “remote wipe.”

Since version 3, Android lets you enable encryption in software or hardware (Settings > Security > Encryption). As in iOS, when the device is locked only a hardcore hacker could potentially gain access to the data. (Encryption requires the use of a code, not Android’s pattern-screen lock.)

A version of Bitlocker protects Windows Phone 8 devices, just as with a Windows laptop, and Microsoft requires hardware-accelerated encryption. A passcode protects access.

C) Find a Lost or Stolen Devices

Even if your device is stolen or you simply mislay it in your travels, it’s possible to aid yourself and the police in recovering it if you’ve planned ahead. Theft-recovery software for mobile and desktop operating systems can track a device so long as it’s on a network.

With a location in hand, police are often more willing to visit a home or business, as they frequently find where one device is located, other stolen gear is found. But many thieves are now too clever for such software, and prevent devices from joining a wi-fi network or even wrap hardware in aluminum foil to keep it off a cellular network.

1) Use built-in Apple options.
Mac and iOS users can use Apple’s built-in solution called Find My Mac and Find My iPhone (which works for all iOS devices). This is activated in Lion and Mountain via the iCloud preference pane, and requires Wi-Fi to be enabled to provide tracking information. In iOS, the Settings > iCloud view has a Find My iPhone switch. You can find the current location of devices (Macs and iOS gear) associated with an Apple ID by logging in to iCloud.com with that ID or using the Find My iPhone app (which includes Macs in what it finds).

Find My iPhone/Mac can both lock a device remotely or wipe it clean. Apple goes so far as to allow a Good Samaritan to dial a number you’ve sent through Find My iPhone even when all other calls on the iPhone are disabled.

2) Use third-party software:
Several third-party packages, some available for Mac, Windows, and mobile OS, keep a constant low-level account of where a device is located. Others wait for a remote network trigger, checking in at regular intervals, that a device is stolen before they activate tracking. Some of them let you file a police report, see what a thief is typing, or even use your camera to snap a photo or video of the thief. Options include GadgetTrak, Absolute Software’s Lojack for Laptops, and Orbicule’s Undercover.

 

In all cases, the software has to be installed before a device is stolen, and typically registered and activated. You also want to run a test to make sure it can be located while still in your clutches. While nearly all smartphones and some tablets have GPS radios, computers and mobile devices without GPS can infer a position from nearby Wi-Fi networks using databases gathered or licensed by various parties, including Apple and Skyhook Wireless.

Google relies on Google Sync and its business-oriented Google Apps to let a system admin either erase an Android device or give a user the ability to erase remotely.

D) Always Be Prepared

It’s always hard to deal with the loss of an electronic device that has your personal and business data. By taking measures to secure your systems before you hit the road, you can defeat thieves before they get started, while helping Good Samaritans bring your precious hardware back to you.

There are always two sides of a coin. When it comes to internet, it can play a role of an angel and a devil too. Be-aware!!

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Published by

Shweta Lakhwani

Travel Planner by profession. Rest free time - Travel and Social Blogger, Amateur Poetry Writer, Foodstagrammer, Food Content Writer for Hungrito, Nomad Soul and Adventure Freak girl.

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