Top tips to protect your client’s data when travelling

Top tips to protect your client's data when travelling 1

Who thinks about securing data when travelling?

Your clients are bound to access data when travelling. In the age of the smart phone, data privacy, and hacking you and your client are going to have to think about data privacy before anyone leaves home.

Taking personal data to high risk countries?

Some countries, such as the USA, give their border security team the right to access and download all the contents of any laptop or smart phone on a person wanting to enter the USA. The equivalent of digital strip searches are increasingly common and demands that you turn on and hand over your device as surprisingly widespread.

Having personal or corporate confidential information on such devices whilst travelling is not wise. There are no current limits to what can be done with that data once a device is accessed and its contents copied.

Others, such as China, prohibit access to apps and programs which many of us take for granted as part of our day-to-day business and personal lives. A few countries block Telegram or other encrypted end to end communication apps, some also block WhatsApp.

Your client will need to think about the IT side of data when travelling

Top tips to protect your client's data when travelling 3
  • Agree alternative platforms if needed
  • Remove access to some programmes
  • Remove access to special category data
  • Add VPNS, anti-malware, encryption
  • Assess risk of data loss
  • Set up remote tracking and wiping
  • Check existing data policies

We still see people travelling around the world with access to all data on unencrypted devices.

Leave the main device at home?

Would taking a new phone getting a new local sim reduce the risk of data loss? That would be a phone with no historic data, loaded with only the apps needed for the trip. Some countries do not permit purchasing sims without a residential address but some sims can be purchased in advance or at the airport.

Would taking a new secured and encrypted laptop with no data on it reduce the risk of data loss? As long as there is internet access to the cloud via secure access this can be a good alternative where there is sufficient connectivity.

Read their data privacy statement

If your client’s policy states no personal data is shared overseas, (or does not mention that it is) then your client accessing or viewing data overseas is contradicting this.

If your client is going to carry on as normal this can put them in breach of their policy and significantly increase the risks of a data breach.

While many would not worry about reading emails at an airport, accessing data bases, mailing lists, etc with large numbers of customer information, or confidential business plans, are be an entirely different thing.

Be very careful about health related, financial or ID related data – all of which are highly prized by people who want to steal them.

Insurance for data when travelling

Are the devices insured for loss or damage? But what about the data. Many cyber insurance and data loss policies stop when your client leaves the country. Do they need to inform their insurers of what they are accessing when abroad?
This will vary from policy to policy and but should always contact their broker/insurer and notify them, not only that the device(s) are leaving the country but what will be accessed whilst away.

Family and personal data

There are security and confidentiality implications for their own personal data too. Removing any of their personal data that may be used for identity theft, corporate espionage, hacking or other inappropriate activity may make this sound a bit ‘James Bond’. But in a world of internet hacking and phishing, (and physical theft of devices) it is better to be safe than sorry. All those pictures of their kids can quickly find their way onto very dodgy sites, never mind their business confidential information.

Protect your client’s data

If you are applying for visas, and need to share your boss’s passport details, or other ID related details, make sure you are sharing this information securely.

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