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Travelers’ money is safer than their data

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Business travelers are more likely to be mugged of valuable private and corporate data than of their travel money, and yet their indiscriminate behaviour while online, particularly among senior executives, is playing into the hands of cybercriminals.
A Kaspersky Lab report shows that 15% of survey respondents from South Africa have been a target of cyber-crime while abroad, rising to 20% of senior business managers.
At the same time, globally, half of people traveling for work (54%), and up to 62% of senior executives, make no distinction between their behaviours when abroad, despite the fact they are a long way from the security of their work communications networks, and they are handling employers’ confidential data at work.
The study from Kaspersky Lab polled 11 850 people from across from across the world. It found the pressure from work to get online is clouding the judgment of business travelers when connecting to the Internet.
A massive 47% of South Africans in senior roles say they try to log on as quickly as possible upon arrival abroad because there is an expectation at work that they will stay connected. By the time business travelers reach the arrivals terminal, one in six globally is using their work device to get online.
Almost half (42%) of local senior managers and about 38% of mid-level managers use unsecure public access WiFi networks to connect their work devices when abroad. At least 54% and 47%, respectively, use WiFi to transmit work emails with sensitive or confidential attachments.
One reason business travelers are doing so is a widely-held assumption that their work devices are inherently more secure than private communications tools, regardless of their connectivity, with 47% locally expecting their employers to have set strong security measures. This is most pronounced among business leaders at 51% and mid-level executives at 45%.
Meanwhile, 49% think that, if employers are to send staff overseas, they must accept any security risks that go with it. But a large proportion of business travelers, and particularly business leaders, are not helping with their indiscriminate behaviour when abroad.
Seventeen percent of local senior executives admit to using work devices to access websites of a sensitive nature via WiFi, compared to an average 13%; while 37% have done the same for online banking, compared to an average of 24%.
“This report shows us that cybercrime is a real hazard while traveling, and employees are putting confidential business information at risk,” says Konstantin Voronkov, head of endpoint product management at Kaspersky Lab. “The insight provided by the report should be a red flag for corporate information security specialists, as the business travel behaviour we have unearthed here presents a significant corporate data protection challenge. It’s now up to businesses to respond with appropriate security solutions, if they wish to protect themselves.
“At first, we recommend explaining the threat to employees, as awareness is the first step to protection. Another important countermeasure is security over unsafe networks, such as using VPN to access the corporate network, and email encryption. In addition, multilayered endpoint protection should be implemented, including anti-malware, exploit prevention, host-based intrusion protection and firewall, URL filtering technologies, and installation of the most up to date software and system patches.
“When you are out of your corporate network perimeter the most efficient, and often the only protection applicable, is that on your laptop or mobile device.”