Many of the people we work with spend a fair amount of time out of the traditional office setting and on the road. Since summer is now fully with us and, probably, the most popular season for travelling, we thought it was a good time to give a few reminders and tips on how to avoid your tech (or data) being stolen while you are on the road!
The temporary coffee shop office
This should be a no-brainer, but you would be shocked how many times we have been at a coffee shop and watched someone leave an untethered laptop or bag, while they disappear to the bathroom. You can be complacent and say “oh, it’s a quiet, local spot… we’re in a safe part of town”, but it takes seconds for an opportunist thief to swoop by. Not only are you vulnerable to theft, though, you are also vulnerable to prying eyes!
If you are working remotely at somewhere at a coffee shop, you should be taking the following precautions:
1. Use a laptop tether to secure your device to the table.
2. If you need the bathroom, and you are alone, take your bag with you!!!
3. Be aware of who/what is behind you, especially if you have sensitive info on the screen. (Ideally locate yourself so only a solid wall is behind you.)
4. Try to avoid using the “free WiFi”, but if you really must, only use websites that use HTTPS, make sure you are definitely on the coffee shop owner’s WiFi and use a VPN before logging into any accounts or view sensitive data. (A recent survey found 70% of hacks actually took place through unsecured public Wifi!)
Security at your destination
No matter where you go in the world, there will always be plenty of light-fingered friends to relieve you of your prized tech. Beaches are a goldmine for pickpockets and petty thieves. Once again, it can only take a few seconds for someone to scoop your bag (and valuable tech devices) while you quickly cool off in the waves.
1. The best defense is to simply not take your mobile devices to the beach!
2. Make use of the hotel safes.
3. If you must take your device, and want to swim, (and it’s not waterproof) look at purchasing a waterproof case so you can keep it with you.
4. If you must take your device and want to take a nap on the beach, keep the device discretely tucked away and preferably anchored/hidden under your body!
5. Be vigilant of unexpected distractions. Thieves can use these as a diversion, and when your gaze wanders, your stuff becomes theirs!
6. Keep close to lifeguard towers. Of course, these guys are there for safety and not to watch your stuff… but thieves will avoid those areas because of the higher risk of getting caught.
The airport security scam
If a flight is on your travelling agenda, watch out for the dreaded X-ray scanner scam! Here is how it works…
At the airport security check, the first scammer will go through the line quickly & efficiently. A second scammer will wait until the people just behind them have loaded up their tech devices (cellphones, laptops etc) to the x-ray machine conveyor belt, and then proceed to hold these people up (something innocently-looking like struggling to get keys or change out of a pocket). The first scammer then scoops up those devices as they emerge from the x-ray at the other end and walks away!
Be vigilant and only put your devices on the belt when it is your turn to go through, keeping an eye on them as they pass by! If you see someone taking an unhealthy interest in your devices, alert security personnel immediately.