The business of safe communications abroad
In the U.S., Americans are for the most part spoiled when it comes to privacy and device security.
Besides the inherent firewalls, passwords and built-in security from device and software providers, individuals are protected by government regulations. Although the U.S. government has recently been scrutinized for violating some citizen privacy laws, Americans are still at the top of the list for security in terms of mobile communications.
When you travel abroad for business, you and your mobile devices are not nearly as safe, particularly in certain second and third world countries.
Countries where mobile devices are hard to come by, where the economy is in shambles, and where theft is common, make it treacherous for business travelers to protect their data and personal finances.
Travel may be unavoidable
It may be unavoidable for you to travel to countries like this, however.
Companies and large corporations frequently need their executives and sales team to travel internationally in order to close deals, earn new business or manage overseas operations.
In these instances, it's imperative that the traveling team be able to communicate with each other and with the office back home in the U.S.
Related: Four tips for stress-free travel
As mentioned in the following article, here are a few helpful tips for keeping your mobile communications secure abroad:
1. Use a dedicated business phone
Keep your usual and personal mobile phone at home while you're traveling abroad.
Your personal phone will have apps on it that place you in a very vulnerable position while traveling. You may have apps that keep you logged in to your bank, your social media profiles, and your business intranet service.
Your list of contacts can also place you at great risk. Thieves could text your contacts pretending to be you, and ask for them to send over emergency money. This is a common tactic in certain countries.
Purchase a second cell phone for your trip before you go abroad, and connect it to your mobile phone plan.
Don't load anything on it except the necessities. Don't load any apps that could be used to steal your money or identity.
2. Keep your phone off until you need it
Make it a habit not to turn on your phone until you need it.
Thieves now have devices that can steal your phone's data just by swiping it past you as they walk along the sidewalk next to you. If possible, keep the phone's battery in a separate pocket, out of the phone.
Some devices can steal data even while the phone is turned on. Don't use your phone at the airport when you arrive or depart, because the airport is a huge tourist spot where hackers know they will find targets.
3. Limit where you use your cell phone
If possible, only use your phone in private hotel rooms or in commercial establishments such as upper class restaurants.
Other countries don't have access to top quality cell phones, and thieves would love to steal your latest iPhone or Samsung Galaxy phone so they can sell it on the black market.
Bottom line? You must always be on your guard when traveling abroad!
About the Author: Kate Supino writes about best business practices.
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