On the Road Again

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This is National Chemistry Week. It’s also National School Bus Week. And be sure to wish members of Team Jacob a happy National Wolf Awareness Week. But for most business travelers, the annual observance that really hits home – or the road – is National Protect Your Identity Week, October 17th through 23rd.

Of course, you already have a plan in place for safeguarding data in your files and on your company’s network. Protecting Personal Information: A Guide for Business, a free nuts-and-bolts brochure from the FTC, is packed with low-cost tips on securing sensitive customer and employee information. But what about when you’re traveling? Are you maintaining the same high standards for data security when you’re on the go? Here are some tips for corporate road warriors about reducing the risk of a data "oops."

  • Locked – and (un)loaded. Before leaving on business travel, check your briefcase, PDA, and laptop for files that shouldn’t make the trip with you. Sensitive information like customer databases, financial documents, or employee records are best left locked in a file cabinet or stored securely on your network. If you don’t have a legitimate business need for it while you’re traveling, leave it at the office.
  • Why it's not hot to jot. Does your company have special access numbers for employees to use when working off-site? Avoid the temptation to scribble them on a scrap of paper you keep with your laptop.
  • The Flight Stuff. According to a company that insures computers, 10% of laptop thefts occur in airports. Keep your eye on electronic equipment when going through airport screening. Put your cell phone, PDA, or laptop on the conveyor belt last.
  • Private eyes. According to a survey of business travelers, a third of them ‘fessed up to sneaking a peek at an airplane seatmate’s computer screen. Defer work on confidential client matters until the coast is clear.

Looking to build these lessons into in-house security training? There's no need to start from scratch.

  1. Grab this game from onguardonline.gov. It features international intrigue, a sultry bossa nova beat – and an entertaining message about laptop security while traveling.
  2. Adapt these tips for your company newsletter or Intranet.  FTC materials are in the public domain, so they're yours to share with your staff.
  3. Order free laptop security bookmarks from the FTC and distribute them in the office.  While you're there, get a stack for your IT and HR colleagues.

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