6 tips for safe travels during the holidays

6 tips for safe travels during the holidays

By Cory Louie, Head of Trust and Security at Dropbox

‘Tis the season for holiday travel—and if you’re going to be working while on the road or at your destination, ‘safe travels’ means protecting your devices and data, too. Here are some quick ways to keep your holiday travels safe and stress-free.

1. Use a privacy screen

If you’re going to be working from public places—like airports, planes, trains, hotels, or cafes—you should consider getting a privacy screen for your laptop. These filters can be placed over your laptop, tablet, or phone display, making the screen appear dark for anyone looking at your screen from a side angle.

You won’t notice a difference while you’re working, and you won’t have to worry about your seat companion or the person at the next table being able to read what’s on your screen. (But don’t forget to watch out for anyone looking directly over your shoulder.)

2. Enable two-step verification, device passwords/PINs, and disk encryption

These extra security layers can go a long way to protect your information. Even if you’re not traveling, you should set up two-step verification on your Dropbox account and any other service that offers it, set passwords or PIN codes to access your laptop or mobile device, and enable full-disk encryption—all of which can help protect your files in case your device is lost or stolen. Ask your IT or security team for help setting up any of these additional layers of security.

3. Lock your laptop or phone if you walk away from it

Now that you’ve set passwords or PIN codes for all your devices, make sure to use them! If you walk away from your phone or laptop—even if you have a friend or family member watching out for them—lock your screen so nobody but you can access the device. (You should get in the habit of doing this at work, too.)

4. Don’t use a public computer to access work accounts

If you’re at an Internet cafe, hotel business center, or library, resist the urge to check your work email on a public computer—it can present all kinds of security threats. Just wait until you can use your work phone or laptop.

And make sure not to turn your laptop into a ‘public’ computer, either. Try to avoid letting friends or family members use your work devices. You don’t want to expose confidential work information, and the last thing you need is someone accidentally installing malware on your device.

5. Use VPN when connecting to public WiFi/Internet

If your company offers a Virtual Private Network (VPN) service, use it. VPN creates a private tunnel and mimics the functionality, security, and policies of your work network when using a public Internet connection, allowing you to confidently connect to work tools.

If VPN isn’t available to you, be careful with any free public WiFi. Don’t connect to any open WiFi networks that you don’t know or recognize; instead, try to use one that requires a password or some type of registration process. You should also check your phone settings to make sure it doesn’t automatically connect to any open WiFi.

6. Do your homework before international travel

Traveling to a different country for the holidays? Before you go, check the U.S. State Department’s travel warnings website to make sure the area is safe for travelers. They also provide helpful tips on staying safe in that region, based on current events.

And just like you notify your bank about where you’re traveling and when, you should also give your company’s IT and security teams a heads up. They can talk to you about the company’s information security travel policy and get you set up with special devices or instructions to keep your data safe. Plus, if they’re using a security information and event management (SIEM) integration or another way to monitor logs, it could help them to know in advance that you’ll be working from another part of the world.

With these safety tips in your toolkit, you’ll have one less thing to worry about during your holiday travels. Now if only we could help with baggage claim…