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Why Business Travelers Are Vulnerable Targets for Cyber Attacks and How to Stop Them

October 19, 2016 No Comments

Featured article by Jeremy Sutter, Independent Technology Author

Man fancy 300x232 Why Business Travelers Are Vulnerable Targets for Cyber Attacks and How to Stop Them

Traveling can be an eye-opening and life-enriching experience for those who partake in it. There is, however, certain dangers and precautions which must be taken in consideration when traveling, especially as a business traveler. One such consideration is that business travelers are especially vulnerable to cyber attacks while traveling. While this may be shocking to hear, the truth is undeniable. There are, however, certain measures that a business traveler can take to ensure that valuable data is not stolen. Before security measures are related, it is beneficial to understand how these attacks are occurring.

Foreign Governments

Today’s world is one of mass data collection. Recent attention has highlighted this fact, as it was brought to light that the N.S.A. had been gathering information on U.S. citizens. Even the N.S.A.’s own web page details how they are able to keep surveillance on the Internet. This phenomena is, sadly, not limited to the United States. China has been gathering information on its citizens for years and is close to completion of a state of the art surveillance system using “big data analytics”. Foreign governments do not have the same laws of privacy as the United States does. This is important to keep in mind. One should not assume that they have the right to privacy in foreign nations. One’s hotel room may be searched freely with no warrant. There may even be surveillance equipment in the room itself, such as cameras or microphones which are capable of recording one’s every word and move. One’s business may be of interest to a foreign government.

Password Bots

One way that hackers and foreign governments alike try to hack into a business person’s account is by attacking their accounts with specialized bots. These bots are essentially computer programs that run thousands of combinations into both the username and password of an account to try and break into it. These bots work at a very fast pace, typing up to 500 characters a second against a password, which is much more than humanly possibly in that given time. This is typically the way that hackers, both government and private, will try and access an account.

Practical Protection

The question naturally arises as to what an individual on a business trip can do to protect their cyber-information. One way is to make both the username and password of one’s business account very long. The bots aforementioned are usually programmed to stay on target a short amount of time, so having a very long username and password helps greatly in extending the time its takes for a bot to crack the code, and thus increases the chance that a bot will move on to an easier target. It is also important to not use a username or password which could be traced back to oneself, the most common being a name. This gives hackers an immediate advantage and eases their way into hacking an account.

Another important aspect of overall protection abroad is physical protection. While this may seem counterintuitive in the context of a cyber attack, physical protection of a computer or tablet is very important. Always having a business computer or laptop on one’s person is ideal for security. This situation may not always be ideal for international tourism or everyday life however, so security measures can be taken in a hotel room. One way to monitor a laptop while one is away is by placing an item like a coffee mug beside the USB port with the handle facing a cardinal direction. The cup should be placed a certain distance away from the computer that is specific to the traveler, like a thumb. After returning to the hotel room, the business traveler can then see if the cup is in the exact position which they had left it or not. The coffee cup being moved or shifted away from the computer may not be definitive proof that someone has attempted a cyber attack, but it should lead to more vigilance.

 

DATA and ANALYTICS , SECURITY, SOCIAL BUSINESS

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