As the saying goes, ‘What turns information into power is action’. When conducting business in foreign, highly competitive destinations, protecting sensitive information on your electronic devices is vital. Criminals can, through dubious action, access such information and use your valuable intellectual property to their advantage and your disadvantage.

Here are five tips to help mitigate cyber information vulnerability.

Get your laptop travel-ready. Up-to-date security software is a must. Make sure your software is current before leaving home. Don’t pack in your Bluetooth earpieces and keyboards, and switch off your laptop’s Bluetooth function. In addition, make sure all your devices are password-protected.

Minimise data. Possibly the best way is to travel with devices that have the bare minimum amount of data; devices that can be thoroughly cleaned upon return.

Keep eyes wide open. Make sure you can see your laptop, smartphone and tablet at all times while away. For example, if customs officers want to take your device to a private room without you, politely but definitely decline. And, whenever possible, don’t leave your devices in your hotel room. It’s always better to store in hotel safe or carry them with you.

When on the Internet, use a VPN. A number of countries watch Internet traffic and often block content they don’t approve of; for instance, politically delicate matters. To avoid trouble accessing Twitter, Dropbox, YouTube, Facebook, etc., use a Virtual Private Network (VPN) that creates an encrypted tunnel for your Internet traffic. That way, your Internet activity cannot be accessed or interfered with by undesirable individuals or institutions.

Theft happens so be prepared. If you have a ‘find my device’ option, you can remotely track, lock, and erase the data on a stolen or lost device. You can also see the battery life remaining on your phone and Wi-Fi network it is connected to. To find out more, speak to your IT department before your next trip. And remember to log out of storage apps that require your password. By remaining logged on, you’re compromising the security of the device.

You may think that some of these tips are somewhat extreme. In most destinations, they may be. However, in a highly-competitive, global business environment, it’s always better to err on the side of caution. After all, when it comes to safeguarding your company’s valuable data, protection is indeed better than cure.

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