Staying safe on the move
Whether you’re working from home one day a week or travelling to countries with very different privacy laws, you need to make sure the devices and data you use are secure. In particular, when you work remotely it’s a good idea to:
- Encrypt laptops and mobile devices; and
- Only store and access the data you really need.
Unfortunately, it’s not always as clear cut as this when you’re travelling abroad. Many countries (including the UK) give immigration and other authorities legal powers to demand you decrypt devices. Some countries go further and place restrictions on the use of encryption. Given the number of laptops and mobile devices that cross borders every day, in practice only a tiny fraction are subjected to such demands or restrictions. But you should still be prepared for this eventuality. That’s why you should only travel with the data you really need and, whether you’re using encryption or not, make use of technology like VPN for secure remote access.
How to use wifi hotspots securely
What's not to like about public wifi networks? They're available almost everywhere you go, usually fast and often free. There is a downside, however: it's extremely easy for anyone on the same network to intercept your data. The bad guys can also set up rogue networks that look legit but allow them to snoop on all passing traffic.
Improving security and privacy
Here are some tips for when using untrusted networks:
Use a personal firewall on laptops and turn off features in your settings such as file sharing, printer sharing and public folder sharing.
Set up and use a virtual private network (VPN) to ensure all the traffic you send and receive is secure and encrypted.
Make sure your connection is encrypted, every time you log in to a website – the URL should begin https (instead of http). The connection should stay encrypted for your entire session. Some websites will encrypt your login page and then return you to an unsecured session, leaving you vulnerable. To get around this, configure your browser to use an extension such as HTTPS Everywhere that forces your browser to use https encryption wherever it is supported.
‘Forget’ networks' once you are done by removing them from your network settings in your laptop or mobile device.
Be aware that some countries may use firewalls to prevent the use of things like VPN so be prepared to wait until you get home.
How to use public machines safely
Using the internet on public machines in internet cafés or hotel lobbies can be very convenient, and even essential if you don't have your own device with you. However, an insecure machine could be riddled with malicious software ready to record your every move. As a general rule:
Don't trust public computers when handling confidential information.
Change passwords when you are next at a machine you trust.
Never save any details (particularly passwords) on machines you don't trust.
Always log out properly at the end of your session, and close the browser after clearing the cache.