With the POPI commencement deadline looming, and the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) coming into effect on 25 May 2018, the issues surrounding data privacy and cybersecurity are once again on everyone’s lips. However, over and above the protection of personal information, companies need to ensure that their corporate travellers protect sensitive business data too.
In March 2017, the US and UK banned laptops and tablets on flights departing some Middle Eastern and North African countries. This move prompted organisations to critically examine how they could protect their travellers’ devices and data, and limit the valuable information that could potentially be exposed in a data breach or border crossing search. Despite the laptop ban being lifted, companies and travellers remain concerned about device security and how to best protect data.
Encryption weak spots
“A laptop hard drive can be encrypted to protect device data, but the gaps in encryption programmes could leave some devices only partly protected or completely at risk, putting sensitive business data and personal information in jeopardy,” says Chantal Kliche, Retail Manager of Thompsons Travel, Cape Region.
Additionally, USB flash drives and cell phones are easily stolen, making data on these devices particularly vulnerable. “It is considered best practice to treat cell phones like laptops and encrypt them: set a screen lock with a strong password,” says Kliche.
Reactive company travel policies
Company travel policies around data protection need to be comprehensive rather than reactive. “Password or biometric protected data is critical,” says Kliche.
Finding a middle ground
Some companies have requested that employees travel only with an iPad connected to a cellular network. “A cell network is much harder to breach than an open Wifi network,” says Kliche.
Another, perhaps more sustainable approach, focuses less on devices and more on securing data across the company. “Cloud storage plays a massive role in this instance,” says Kliche. “So long as sensitive business documentation is safely stored in the cloud, employees can travel with their regular laptops.”
Want to chat more about strategies for protecting data on your business trips, or how to include these systems in your travel policy? Contact Thompsons Travel today.