Tech expert Karl Volkman of Chicago's SRV Network, Inc. recently sent over some tips on how to keep your data safe while traveling. I highlight a number of points that I feel are especially pertinent to the employees of small and mid-sized businesses who may be on the road often, and weigh in with some opinions of my own.
"Avoid doing professional business on public Wi-Fi, but if required, use a VPN or terminal server technologies," writes Volkman. I heartily agree with this advice, though I would point out that smaller businesses are unlikely to have terminal server technologies deployed. This leaves the use of a VPN appliance or server as the easiest method for SMBs to protect their privacy.
What many people may not be aware is that setting up a fake Wi-Fi network is as simple as configuring a Wi-Fi access point with the same SSID. However, the use of a VPN that has been correctly configured to make use of digital certificates will foil this very real attack vector.
In addition, Volkman also suggests that mobile workers check that their firewall and antivirus software are working properly. While this may sound extraneous, it is relatively easy for firewall and anti-virus defenses to be left disabled by mistake.
And in the case of an anti-malware scanner, it makes sense to also ensure that the latest virus definition files are downloaded and installed. Finally, the latest patches for your operating system and application software should always be applied in a timely manner.
I added this myself. Workers who frequently do their work outside the office run the highest risk of suffering data leakage, either due to carelessness or theft. As you can imagine, the only way to defend against this possibility is to encrypt all relevant storage devices. This can be easily achieved by enabling BitLocker for businesses using the Enterprise edition of the Windows operating system, or using a free disk encryption software like TrueCrypt.