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Security Feature

November 15, 2016

Why Business Travelers are Vulnerable Targets for Cyberattacks

By Lindsey Patterson, Contributing Writer

If you travel frequently for business, you should be aware of the danger posed by cyberattacks. Hacking and identify theft now get plenty of coverage. Most tech savvy people know enough to protect their computers and use secure passwords. Some people, however, don't realize that they're especially vulnerable to cybercrimes when traveling for business.

Why Business Travelers are Targeted

While tourists and anyone traveling for any reason should be careful, business travelers need to be especially vigilant. For one thing, business travel often brings you to parts of the world where cybercriminals are active. Hackers, identity thieves and other cybercriminals also know that business travelers are likely to be dealing with financial data and perhaps proprietary information that has value on the black market.

International travel creates special risks for business travelers. Not only do you have to worry about hackers but, in some cases, foreign governments may be complicit in data breaches. Keep in mind that when you travel in certain countries, you may not have any right to privacy.

Be Wary of Hotels

When you travel for business, you probably stay at hotels. Unfortunately, hotels are frequently targeted for cyberattacks. In 2015, for example, three major hotel chains announced breaches of customer data. Customers of Hilton, Hyatt and Starwood, at various locations in North America and Europe, had personal data stolen during the holiday months of November and December.

While it’s impossible to predict when or where such attacks will occur, business travelers should be aware that hotels are not necessarily secure. When comparing hotels, it’s a good idea to look at what security measures are taken to protect customers’ information. One practice that increases risks is management holding onto guests’ credit cards.

Precautions for Business Travelers

Certain precautions can reduce your risks while traveling on business. Never use public computers for anything related to business or financial transactions. Spyware is often attached to public PCs. This includes computers found at hotels, Internet cafes and other public places.

Using cash instead of credit cards is one way to make your transactions more secure. If you're traveling in a foreign country, make sure you’re always carrying a good amount of the local currency. When you pay in cash, you don’t have to worry about anyone stealing your information. When getting cash, however, you need to be wary of ATMs, another popular target of cybercriminals. Getting cash back at grocery stores is a safer option that also saves you ATM fees. If you must use ATMs, bank branches are generally more secure than machines found in smaller establishments.

Business travelers should be extra vigilant about using difficult passwords when using their devices. If some of your passwords are currently short or easy to guess, it’s a good idea to change them before you travel. The longer and more complex your password, the more difficult it is for either human hackers or bots to guess them.

It’s also important to keep close watch over your devices. One of the easiest ways for someone to steal your data is to simply steal your device. A more sophisticated trick is to tamper with a device while the owner is not looking. Always keep your computers, phones or tablets close at hand when traveling. Finally, when discussing important business information or financial details, be aware of your surroundings. You’re generally safer speaking in public places than in your hotel room. Using your own phone is a better choice than a hotel phone, which may be monitored.

Business Travelers Need to be Vigilant

It’s important to be conscientious when traveling on business. Cybercriminals are always on the lookout for ways to steal financial data and any type of valuable information. No matter where you’re going, you should take precautions to keep your devices, credit cards and conversations private. Many of these tips are worth following at all times. Business travelers, however, need to be extra cautious about keeping their data secure.

Edited by Alicia Young

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