ASATA Column: Cyber Safety


Many business travellers give little thought to data security and identity theft, especially when you consider the amount of personal information you submit when you travel – credit card numbers, email addresses, home addresses, passport details – not to mention confidential business-related information you carry when travelling.

 The modern business traveller is armed with smartphones, tablets, laptops, and while being connected 24/7 has great benefits for companies, it also exposes companies to considerable risk.

To illustrate the point, a rather sophisticated and scary case of cyber crime was recently discovered whereby the computers of business travellers staying at top international hotels were hacked and confidential information stolen.

DarkHotel, as the attack has been named, unfortunately managed to go unnoticed for several years and affected travellers when they logged on to the hotel’s internet service over Wi-Fi or via Ethernet. It is easy for anyone to set up a fake Wi-Fi network and encourage people to connect to it to capture sensitive information.

Companies are starting to cotton on to the risks and are forewarning their travellers to be careful in addition to employing data protection methods such as forbidding travellers to take their work laptops to certain countries.

But keeping your personal and company information safe is your responsibility and, as was the case of DarkHotel, you should treat all public internet access as suspect.

Keep your data safe with these tips:

  • Update your software before travelling to ensure that hackers cannot exploit known vulnerabilities.
  • Avoid public computers at all cost! You have no guarantee of when security updates were done last, what viruses exist on the machine or what kinds of unknown software have been installed by staff and customers over the years.
  • Don’t do anything involving money or entering your credit card details.
  • Use two-factor authentication for as many online services as possible. This combines something you know, like a password, with something you have, like an SMS message or special app.
  • Back up your data using either a portable hard drive or a cloud-based service. If your laptop goes AWOL at least you’ll still have access to all your emails.

Otto de Vries