Online Security for the Traveling Lawyer
Lawyers no longer stay put. Most of us have the opportunity to travel for business or pleasure. Arranging to do so may be easy or complicated depending on the area of law we practice, our schedules, and in today’s digital world, our technology. Besides the appropriate absentee notices we need to give to the court, our clients and our firms (which is not the focus of this article) we also need to consider security and personal safety risks and concerns regarding our data and ourselves. Why?
Simply put because travel has become digital and digital can make us vulnerable under a false sense of security. What is posted online can affect us, our firms, and our clients offline. And there is a lot that gets posted. It is estimated that each person in a developed country will create more than 88 GB of data in their lifetime. With videos, etc. that number is increasing. Where is all this data coming from?
- What we post about ourselves.
- What others post about us.
- What we post about others.
- What our devices post about us.
Cyber attacks can take place in several ways, which is why protecting yourself from cyber crime is so important. Furthermore, it’s no secret that being a lawyer involves dealing with a large amount of confidential and highly personal information. Ransomware is a type of malicious software that prevents the victims from accessing their documents, pictures, databases and other files by encrypting them and demanding a ransom to decrypt them back. For a lawyer, the effects of a cyber attack of this nature can be devastating. Therefore, to protect your files and devices from a ransomware attack, you might want to consider installing something like Zonealarm Anti-Ransomware.
So, what else can be done to protect your technology while travelling?
Here are some tips to keep you and your data secure as you travel:
- Think about where you are purchasing your travel services online? The airline website, the hotel comparison site, the rental car site? Are these sites secure as you enter your financial information to complete the transaction?
- When you receive your email confirmations for your purchases are they legitimate or are they phishing scams?
- Who are you sharing your travel plans with? How are you sharing that information? For example, are you posting on Facebook? Are your privacy preferences set to the highest level on your social media accounts? Are you using an app like TripIt, that can automatically post your travel arrangements on your social media accounts? Why are you doing that?
- Are you posting or sharing photos while you are traveling – like on Instagram? Are you removing the geolocation information (geotagging) before uploading the photo? Or better yet, wait until you return form your travels to post the photos.
- Have you contacted your financial institution(s) and mobile service provider of your travel plans? Are you monitoring these accounts for any unusual activity?
- Are your online account passwords strong? Change them when you return. Some individuals create a separate travel email account to protect against fraudulent emails.
- Travel only with the technology that you absolutely need.
- Travel only with the data that you absolutely need. Encrypt data and consider storing the data in a flash drive or other device where it is not stored on the main laptop, etc.
- Be cautious in your use of public Wi-Fi – even in hotel lobbies where hackers have been known to create “evil-twin” networks.
- Remember the Internet of Things – anything can be connected online so be careful about the digital dashboard in the taxi and the smart phone operated room key.
- Check with your firm about any travel policies and look into travel and data loss insurance.
- When you return do a technology inventory and run anti-virus scans on all your devices including your smartphone and tablet. Run these scans on equipment you left behind as well.
Here are some tips on personal safety while traveling:
- If you are traveling internationally check the US State Department website for travel alerts. http://travel.state.gov/content/travel/english.html
- Enroll in the US STEP program – Smart Traveler Enrollment Program https://step.state.gov/step/
- Check out the CDC Country page for any health concerns and get the appropriate vaccines as required. http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel
- Make sure to take copies of your medical prescriptions.
- Leave copies of your passport and other identification information with someone you trust who can be reached in case of emergency.
- Be aware of your surroundings while you travel, especially if you are a woman traveling alone in certain countries. There are some personal safety apps you can download to your smartphone such as iFollow, Guardly, Hollabak, etc.
So with your bags packed and your data secure, bon voyage.
Vector illustration courtesy of Freepik.