Five safety tips for digital workers on the move

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12/08/2019 |

Five safety tips for digital workers on the move

There are more security threats outside the office than we think.

Woman working on laptop at a breakfast table on a balcony

Imagine that you are working in a hotel during your business trip and just want to send an email before an important business appointment, but suddenly nothing works anymore – you try again and again, but can’t get your data. The suspicion that you have fallen victim to a hacker creeps in on you. But why now when the customer presentation is on the agenda? More and more questions are coming to your mind: Why me? Why right now? What should I tell the customer? What exactly should I do now? Who do I have to inform? Who can help me? A nightmare.

State-of-the-art technology makes it possible for people to work from anywhere. From home, from the café or from the holiday resort. While most office workers work temporarily from other locations to save the trip to the office and gain flexibility, so-called “digital nomads” are people who work entirely independent of a fixed location. According to estimates, their number is as high as half a million people. Whether digital nomad or not, everyone shares a desire for freedom, a certain self-determination, a sense of responsibility – and, above all, a need for security.

Especially when employees work in holiday-like places, they are in a relaxed mood and can quickly forget one or two safety instructions.

It goes without saying that the WLAN in the office is protected and security experts are not far away, but working on the move does not offer these advantages and thus represents an increased security risk. However, this is not always recognized by everyone. Especially when employees work in holiday-like places, they are in a relaxed mood and can quickly forget one or two safety instructions. But it’s especially important for remote workers to use special caution. That is why I would like to offer you the following five tips for your journey:

Tip 1: No matter from where you work, always use a VPN network.

In hotels, airports, restaurants – you can often simply log into the WLAN (Wireless Local Area Network) wherever you are. In many cases, a password is not even required. But are you also aware that the network is not encrypted and is unprotected? Just as easily as you do, unauthorized persons can enter the network and gain access to your personal data in a relatively uncomplicated way. Abroad, WLANs are often even better developed than in Germany. On the one hand it is great for surfing; on the other hand it also offers a higher risk potential.
Therefore, I recommend that everyone use a VPN (Virtual Private Network). A virtual private network is a self-contained network that ensures to encrypt communication and keep it anonymous while allowing the transmission of data via the Internet. This means it is protecting your privacy every time you use the Internet.

Tip 2: Beware of USB Outlets! They appear practical, but can be dangerous.

This is a common thing that everyone has probably experienced: When working on the go, power from your laptop or smartphone starts to drain and you run the risk of being thrown off the line in the middle of a telephone conference because you no longer have battery power. USB power outlets (located in many airports, for example) appear to be handy. Here you can quickly recharge your battery and continue working “safely.” We think.
In fact, however, USB ports are primarily intended for data transfer. It can happen that the connection, which is supposed to be used exclusively for charging, is misused by unauthorized persons to access data without authorization. If you want to play it safe, I recommend using so-called “USB data blockers”. They only activate the power connection and cut the data connection. This ensures that only your batteries are actually accessed.

That's why you should pay special attention and always lock all your devices - even if you aren't working on them for a short moment.

Tip 3: Double protection against higher theft probability.

What you can quickly forget when in a traveling mood: Electronic devices can be stolen more quickly in hotels, certain regions or in all public places than in the office. That’s why you should pay special attention and always lock all your devices – even if you aren’t working on them for a short moment. In addition, the hard drive should always be encrypted. In the worst case, unauthorized access to your data will be more difficult. Those who have additionally activated “remote erasability” on their device will also be able to eliminate their confidential data in the event of theft.

Tip 4: Data storage devices should always be encrypted, too.

For mobile work outside the office, it is helpful to have a USB stick or other data storage device with you. Often you just need more information that might not fit on your hard drive. But a USB stick can also quickly get lost. Since you don’t carry it with you all the time, it can quickly be left on the train or in your hotel. This makes it all the more important to always encrypt data storage devices as well, so that unauthorized persons have no access to it.

Tip 5: Open your eyes to social engineering

Especially on vacation and business trips, you will probably be more relaxed than in the office. You may talk to a lot of new people and may even go out for something to eat and drink with them. This is actually nice, but unfortunately these situations are also sometimes exploited. Many hackers try to obtain confidential data in personal conversations. If, for example, a stranger asks you for the exact birthdate of your child or is interested in your employer beyond the usual small talk, you should be aware and not share details.

Essentially, safety on the road is about raising awareness of security risks outside the office.

Essentially, safety on the road is about raising awareness of security risks outside the office. If you follow these five tips, you’re already on the safe side and your travels won’t be spoiled by possible risks.

As a provider of the security solution STORM, OTRS is always up to date regarding security trends and needs. Read other blog contributions about current security topics.

 

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Safety tips for working while on the move
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Photos: Persnickety Prints via Unsplash

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