When you Travel, While you Surf the Web, Who's Surfing You?


Hunkered Down for the Duration
Staff member
When you travel, While you surf the Web, who's surfing you?

What precautions do YOU take?

IHT said:
Any business traveler who has logged on to a wireless network at the airport, printed a document at a hotel business center or checked e-mail messages at a public terminal has probably wondered, at least fleetingly, "Is this safe?"

Although obsessing about computer security is a bit like worrying about a toddler - potential hazards lurk everywhere and you can drive yourself crazy trying to avoid them - the fact is, business travelers take certain risks with the things they do on most trips.

"If you go into the average hotel and sit down in the business center and have a look at their computer, I'm sure you'll find some interesting things that people shouldn't have left behind," said Paul Stamp, a Forrester Research analyst. "The first step companies need to do is to educate people about how valuable the data is and also how small the circles are in which they travel."

Wireless networks at such places as airports, hotels or cafés are not as secure as most people think, said Robert Vamosi, a senior editor with the online technology publisher CNET.

"Someone may have some software on their computer that allows them to look at all the wireless transactions going on around them and capture packets that are floating between the laptop and the wireless access point," he said.

These programs are called packet sniffers and many can be downloaded free online. They are typically set up to capture passwords, credit card numbers and bank account information, which is why Vamosi says shopping on the Web is not a great way to kill time during a flight delay. "Where I'd draw the line is putting in your bank account information or credit card number," he said.

Checking e-mail messages probably is not that risky, Vamosi said, but if you want to be cautious, change your password once you are on a secure connection again. That said, if you gain access to your corporate network through a VPN, or virtual private network, you are safer using public hot spots, because your information is encrypted as it travels between wherever you are and your office's server, where it is decoded before going to its destination.

In other words, your communications are automatically encoded by software on your computer so the information looks like gibberish to anyone trying to intercept it. If your company does not offer a VPN for employees working away from the office, there are services you can subscribe to for about $10 a month that do the same thing.

While it is hard to say how likely it is that someone is lurking on a public network, many public networks do not have adequate security. Last autumn, the magazine InfoWorld published an article about a security researcher who managed to collect more than 100 passwords, per stay, at hotels with lax security (about half the hotels she tested).

Gathering reliable statistics about security breaches is difficult because companies are reluctant to reveal this information. Still, the most recent computer crime and security survey, conducted annually by the Computer Security Institute with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, found that the average loss from computer security incidents in 2005 was $167,713 per respondent (based on 313 companies and organizations that answered the question). As Jim Louderback, editor of PC Magazine, noted, the statistics may not matter given the problems one data breach can cause. "Even if it's 1 or 2 percent," he said, "you don't want to run that risk."

Using a public computer can also mean courting trouble, because data viewed while surfing the Web, printing a document or opening an e-mail attachment is generally stored on the computer - meaning it could be accessible to the next person who sits down. (To remove traces of your work, delete any documents you have viewed, clear the browser cache and the history file and empty the trash before you walk away.) "You also run the risk that somebody has loaded a program on there that can capture your log-ins and passwords," Louderback said.

One way to foil these programs, which record what you type and can send the transcript to a hacker, is to use a password manager like RoboForm. This software, costing $30, encrypts user names and passwords for various Web sites, then enters the data at the click of a mouse when you are prompted to log in. There is a mobile version that can be stored on a flash drive that plugs into a USB port, making your passwords secure and portable.

There are also simple measures you can take to protect your hardware, like using a cable lock to secure your laptop in a hotel room or even a café (in case you leave the table for any reason), and making sure you lock your computer bag in the trunk of a car rather than leaving it on the back seat.

For travelers who do carry around sensitive data, it is worth looking into programs like Absolute Software's LoJack for Laptops, which can help recover a missing computer. The software reports its location when connected to the Internet, and some versions can even be programmed to destroy data if a computer is reported lost or stolen.

But perhaps the most common snoop that business travelers encounter is someone nearby "shoulder surfing" to see what is on a laptop, out of curiosity or mere boredom. To foil prying eyes, 3M sells a Notebook Privacy Filter, a plastic film that makes it impossible to view a laptop screen from an angle.

Trevor Stromquist, a sales analyst for a manufacturing company in Minneapolis, has been using one for the last two years to dissuade nosy neighbors on the road, but he has noticed an added benefit back at the office. "To be honest, it's kind of a nice thing when you're sitting in one of those long drawn-out meetings," he said. "You can do what you need to do and no one will notice."
Elsmar Forum Sponsor
Thread starter Similar threads Forum Replies Date
arios Business Travel - What do you do "after work" while traveling on business? Travel - Hotels, Motels, Planes and Trains 28
A Managing overseas travel risks to food handlers Food Safety - ISO 22000, HACCP (21 CFR 120) 3
M Does ISO 10993 Apply to Packaging? (e.g. Travel Case) Other Medical Device Related Standards 4
J Travel in Asia - 2016 - 2017 Travel - Hotels, Motels, Planes and Trains 3
L Travel - Route Finder Map HD app After Work and Weekend Discussion Topics 2
Hershal Travel! Where have you been of late? What did you see? What do you think? Travel - Hotels, Motels, Planes and Trains 15
J Travel guidence requested - JFK - Providence, RI Travel - Hotels, Motels, Planes and Trains 6
G ISO 9001 Implementation in a Travel Agency ISO 9000, ISO 9001, and ISO 9004 Quality Management Systems Standards 11
Marc Has the 2009 Swine Influenza (Flu) changed your travel plans? Travel - Hotels, Motels, Planes and Trains 22
Stijloor The Golden Age of Travel Travel - Hotels, Motels, Planes and Trains 29
D Managing Hotel Services and Selling Travel Tickets - Excluded ISO 9001 Clauses ISO 9000, ISO 9001, and ISO 9004 Quality Management Systems Standards 4
D Key performance Indicator - Travel @ Tourism ISO 9000, ISO 9001, and ISO 9004 Quality Management Systems Standards 10
D An important travel tip Imported Legacy Blogs 4
Marc Why Do You Travel for a Living? Travel - Hotels, Motels, Planes and Trains 20
Marc Size of Portable Computer Screen for Travel and Why? Travel - Hotels, Motels, Planes and Trains 19
N Personal Business Software to Track Expenses - I.e. Travel and Business Expenses Career and Occupation Discussions 10
Randy I Hate Winter Travel Coffee Break and Water Cooler Discussions 21
P Question about High School Student Travel Coffee Break and Water Cooler Discussions 11
Marc First-Quarter 2006 Air Travel Price Index (ATPI) Up 10.3 Percent from Q1 2005 Travel - Hotels, Motels, Planes and Trains 0
F Travel Expenses for Assessors - Registrar states we pay "reasonable travel expenses" Registrars and Notified Bodies 27
D How are service processes monitored? Travel, Tourism & Hotels Services Service Industry Specific Topics 13
D ISO 9001:2000 in Hotels Travel & Tourism ‎Fields ISO 9000, ISO 9001, and ISO 9004 Quality Management Systems Standards 3
Marc Hotels and Flights - Do you use a travel agent or do you book online? Travel - Hotels, Motels, Planes and Trains 11
R Travel to China - What should I know? How should I prepare? Travel - Hotels, Motels, Planes and Trains 39
H Flow chart to show the various paths a job can travel - Seeking Advice Document Control Systems, Procedures, Forms and Templates 7
O Informational Scaling back internal audits due to corona virus while avoiding a NC Internal Auditing 7
F Management of Software version while NB reviews Technical file CE Marking (Conformité Européene) / CB Scheme 7
D Using "Particle Size Standard" templates as gauges - How to avoid giving a gauge # while using for process control? General Measurement Device and Calibration Topics 2
Q Add new action plans in CA, while waiting effectiveness - Same problem reappears ISO 9000, ISO 9001, and ISO 9004 Quality Management Systems Standards 13
T Closing out CAR while waiting for design change Nonconformance and Corrective Action 12
D Do I need part variation while doing Destructive Variable Gage R&R MSA study Gage R&R (GR&R) and MSA (Measurement Systems Analysis) 19
V Statistical basis and justification while comparing / changing sampling plans Gage R&R (GR&R) and MSA (Measurement Systems Analysis) 11
S Change notice while switching to injection molding technique for manufacturing EU Medical Device Regulations 1
M Products Manufactured while CE was valid CE Marking (Conformité Européene) / CB Scheme 1
T Is there any requirement to be compliant with IEC 62304 while implementing ISO 13485 ISO 13485:2016 - Medical Device Quality Management Systems 5
L Problems while documenting the SOUPs used for the software we are developing IEC 62304 - Medical Device Software Life Cycle Processes 4
T Having Fun While Learning ISO 9001:2015 ISO 9000, ISO 9001, and ISO 9004 Quality Management Systems Standards 6
R Is it legal to attend a trade show while you have a 510(k) application pending? 21 CFR Part 820 - US FDA Quality System Regulations (QSR) 2
S Why Drugs and generics are Approved while Biologics are Licensed ? US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) 1
Q Supplier Accountable Manager Suspended - FAA 8130's while he is suspended? Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Standards and Requirements 1
T EMC Tests - While certified power supply is part of device IEC 60601 - Medical Electrical Equipment Safety Standards Series 1
W Micrometer Storage while not in use General Measurement Device and Calibration Topics 4
Hershal Road construction frustration while driving Coffee Break and Water Cooler Discussions 1
R Ethical Aspects while being Consultant and Certifier within same Organization. Consultants and Consulting 6
B Risk Management while selecting the Supplier Document Control Systems, Procedures, Forms and Templates 3
V Alpha Value while augmenting from Factorial --> RSM - (Question) Using Minitab Software 6
L How is the interaction physically happening while performing ANOVA GR&R? Gage R&R (GR&R) and MSA (Measurement Systems Analysis) 1
C Is an Initial Environmental Review a must while implementing ISO 14001 ISO 14001:2015 Specific Discussions 5
G Points to consider while defining the Quality Policy AS9100, IAQG 9100, Nadcap and related Aerospace Standards and Requirements 11
B Increasing Customer Satisfaction While Decreasing Employee Workload Customer Complaints 4
Similar threads

Top Bottom