Hello, and welcome back to this next TomCast from GuardSight; we are a tactical cybersecurity-as-a-service organization dedicated to helping businesses protect their data, their assets, and their endpoints.

Today’s discussion involves holiday travel. Since the holiday season is upon us, some helpful tips might want to be shared to ensure that everyone has a safe and pleasant travel experience (as much as they are in control of, that is).

Why would a cybersecurity organization provide tips on holiday travel? There are several cyber-related topics that one should pay close attention to with regards to travel. No, we’re not going to advise you on what travel services to use or what airlines to avoid. Those are not the tips that we will be sharing. No, our travel tips surround keeping your assets and your data secure.

The pandemic caused a significant drop in the number of people that traveled last year. The gap in travel ability combined with the up and coming holiday season has projected some rather high numbers of travelers this time of year and over the next few months at least.

So, let’s think about this for a moment. When you travel anywhere, much like the airports project over the loudspeakers, you want to keep a close eye on your luggage at all times and don’t leave anything lying around that could be otherwise mistakenly (or not-so mistakenly) picked up by someone else. Physical security is first and foremost. It becomes rather difficult to protect your personal assets if those assets are no longer in your possession.

So, what happens if your assets are lost or stolen? How can you protect the data stored within? (I am referring to smartphones, laptops, tablets, and other IT-related assets now, not a suitcase full of clothes). What types of protection mechanisms do you have enabled on your assets?

Do you have bio-metrics enabled (fingerprint or facial recognition)? Do you have a PIN or specific code or design that needs to be entered before you unlock the asset? What about a BIOS password on your laptop? Security mechanisms are available on almost every piece of personal technology available. These particular security mechanisms help prevent an external party from accessing the data on the device.

Let’s take a closer look at these security mechanisms to gain a better understanding of what they do. Biometrics, according to the Department of Homeland Security, are unique physical characteristics, such as fingerprints, that can be used for automated recognition. PIN’s, or Personal Identification Numbers, are numbers used for authentication to a device. A BIOS, or Basic Input Output System password is a password that is enabled on a computer that requires entry before the system will complete the power-on cycle.

What do all of these do for you? They prevent threat actors from being able to easily access your data and information. A lost device can be a major headache if there are no security mechanisms enabled as the threat actors could access the information held within and do with it whatever they pleased. Think of the information you have stored on your laptop or smartphone currently. Do any sensitive pieces of information come to mind? Account or credit card numbers, account passwords, contact information, information about friends and family; all of this information can be used to steal identities amongst other things.

Another excellent practice, before you travel, is to back up your data. Back up your laptop to an external hard drive or your secured cloud drive. Back up your smart phone. Back up your tablet. This way, in the case that something is, in fact, stolen or lost, you have a copy of the data that you can access once you either A) find the lost/stolen device, or B) replace that device. Backing up ones data is a practice that few do on a routine basis only to perform a facepalm thinking “ugh, if only I had backed up my *insert device name here*”.

Lastly, verify that you actually need to take those things on travel with you. Are you going to need the laptop while you are on travel? Are you going to require your tablet? Most people need to bring their phones, but if you do not absolutely HAVE to, then why risk it? If you leave those devices in your locked and secure dwelling, then chances are a bit better they will not be stolen from you in an airport, bus station, taxi, train, rental car, or other mode of transportation.

Travel safe and as secure as you are able to.

We here at GuardSight thank you for taking the time to listen to this TomCast. Please share this if you believe it would be of assistance to anyone in your contact list, and please provide us some feedback in the comments so we can continue to improve. Thanks!