Guest contributor: eTravelSafety
Do we understand how to avoid the risk of our devices being compromised?
For most of us, our mobile phones are an extension of ourselves. Our daily routine, interests, personality and vital information are all stored on devices that we take with us on-the-go to assist or manage our lives. This then brings to question; do we understand how to avoid the risk of our devices being compromised? This article will be looking into the security of your phone and assessing the options available to maintain that security.
Communication is pivotal to crisis prevention, mitigation and recovery, and is also the primary purpose of a mobile phone. If you are in the crisis response team or on the receiving end of their assistance, communication channels must be kept robust and secure. Certain apps espouse the benefits of their encrypted communication channels but not all have end-to-end encryption. This means that the company managing the app will have access to observing conversations and potentially the recording of phone calls.
Your teams are likely to be passing on sensitive information, both in and out of a crisis. Although it is unlikely that a private company would gather such data to be used maliciously, it wouldn’t stop hackers trying to penetrate the app’s security or government organisations from demanding access. The most well-known app for its data protection is WhatsApp, however, others also include end-to-end encryption like Viber, Line and Telegram. In fact, WhatsApp was exposed to have a flaw in its software that was being abused by hackers in May of this year. This has since been patched, but those using WhatsApp for personal and especially business purposes ought to be aware of the available alternatives.
Safer Communication For The Business Traveller
The business traveller will need to watch not just their communication because internet browsing is deserving of its own dedicated protection software. This is where VPNs (virtual private networks) have become relevant, as the dangers of accessing the internet in insecure locations are becoming noticed. It’s common knowledge that connecting to a free WIFI connection and then entering sensitive information on a website, like bank details or personal identification, is opening your defences to preying hackers.
By installing and using a VPN, a virtual encrypted tunnel is created between you and a remote server operated by a VPN service. All your internet usage is passed through this tunnel, avoiding any interception by third-party tracking software that might be present without your knowledge. Furthermore, your device assumes the IP address of the VPN server, allowing access to websites or software that may be restricted in other countries. In a scenario where you are trying to communicate with your people in an emergency, your messaging app may be banned in the country that you or someone else from your team is visiting and unable to communicate or access information stored within the app. The most relevant example of this are the collaborate team messaging apps, Slack, Viber and Discord, that are all blocked in China; VPNs would help get around this obstacle and help bring your people together in an emergency.
What’s more, you can ensure further reliability whilst travelling abroad by purchasing a local sim card for your phone. If you can predict a long stay in a country, or even a short one, switching to a local sim card can lower your risk. It’s not just roaming charges that you avoid, but you can expect better signal to make emergency calls on and avoid your data being transferred between multiple providers, improving both speed and security.
What about after the emergency? You may have lost your phone, or it’s been damaged beyond a quick repair. This is the importance of backing-up data to the cloud. Your contacts, messages, notes, logins and app preferences can all be uploaded to a new device relatively easily, allowing you to contact your team, continue business as before and minimise any disruption.
Often cybersecurity is primarily associated with hacking, which is to be expected, but virtual protection of your phone isn’t the sole concern. Theft, damage or misplacing your phone are far more common than any of the above scenarios and should be at the front of your mind when travelling. You should consider:
- where you keep your phone on your person
- where you keep your phone when you’re travelling
- that making or answering a call could alert you to thieves or attract unwanted attention
- what sensitive information (about yourself or your company) is stored on your phone and how easy it would be for a thief to access
- who needs to be informed if you have misplaced or have had your phone stolen
Often left out from the conversation of data protection is the risk of what’s around in your close proximity.
Mobile phone technology is perhaps one of the most rapidly developing, and consequently, this means that threats will be changing at the same pace. This article has outlined the most important considerations that should be taken at the time of writing, but it is encouraged that the individual and their business should be up-to-date on the latest knowledge about cybersecurity and what precautions should be exercised individually and collectively.
For more insights like this article, please head over to: www.etravelsafety.com/thought-leadership
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The industry has been reliant on systems and processes that have become inefficient and ill-suited for the modern world. eTravelSafety’s attitude focuses on replacing inefficient (and therefore ineffective) processes with solutions that help people stay safe, and make that job as easy as possible for everyone involved.
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