Security Tips for Road Warriors
A couple months ago one of our product evangelists reached out to me and asked how to better protect himself and his personal information in his travels. As he settled into a hotel and a day later saw it in a headline as one of the latest exposed to credit card theft he felt a bit exposed. I would have loved to tell him some magical tips that would 100% safeguard him from that day forward, but in short, you cannot prevent it. There is no way to know who the next breach target it or when the breach could have been occurring. The only guarantee you have is that another breach will occur and odds you will have used your card there at some point. You can, however, reduce the impact when any of your information does get nabbed. Now, you can go to extremes. Cancel all credit cards, just use cash, close all of your social media and online accounts of all kinds, but nobody wants to live that way either. The key is balancing the risks. I talked to many road warriors within our own company and we have some tips and tricks that can help you out. Our road warriors range from my light 16-20 weeks or so of travel per year to Simon, Doug and Rob who spend more than 50% of their year on the road and take us to all parts of the globe. Here are some of the tricks we use to safeguard ourselves and to mitigate the impact if our information becomes exposed.
Phil Richards, Chief Security Officer:
I recommend reporting your credit card as stolen/lost/missing to the credit card issuing company at least annually. This allows you to receive a new credit card number, and invalidates the old one. Many hotel chains and retailers that have had credit card info breaches. For the road warrior, it is highly likely that your card is among them. By changing the CC number, the stolen information is useless and cannot harm you.
Rob Juncker, VP of Engineering:
I never go anywhere without my HooToo. It’s a wall charger with 2 USB ports, an Ethernet port, a fully portable charger (so it’s like a power brick) and embedded router. The best part about this device is it has full router capabilities. I have it setup so my computer always connects to it, and then I bridge the hotel Wifi to my personally secure wifi, or use the Ethernet port to plug into the hotel jack. – I have it set by default to disable all inbound and just allow outbound.
Doug Knight, VP of Systems Management:
For the record, I told Rob about the HooToo, but since he beat me to it here is a tip for additional layers of security and anonymity if your travels take you to countries where you need some extra protection and ability to bypass some levels of content filtering. I subscribe to a VPN service called Private Internet Access. I setup a L2TP and then run their default client on top of that. The IPSEC client gives me encryption and some anonymizing and the L2 VPN even allows me to get thru (pretty reliably) the “Great Firewall of China” to reach content that may otherwise be blocked. For the server setting in the L2TP VPN, it’s best to enter the IP address for the server locale you wish to access instead of the DNS name. To obtain an IP address for this purpose, you can ping it or you can go to http://www.ping.eu/ping and enter the server name to be able to get IPs for the server you would like. Do this before you leave the country.
Simon Townsend, Chief Technologist:
I don’t just evangelize about the great security solutions we have at AppSense. I use them regularly. I run as a standard user on my Windows machine and have a local admin account that is used only for installation and initial setup. I run AppSense Application Manager on my system and by default cannot install or run anything that I download under the context of my own LANDESK account. If I need to install something locally I use RunAs or AppSense self-elevation to give myself temporary permission to perform those actions. If I need to do something that is only going to be temporary I will bring up a VM snapshot that is NAT’d. This provides a Deep Freeze style solution that I can revert easily and separates the task I am performing from local data as it would not be exposed to the VM.
Chris Goettl, Senior Product Manager:
You never know what is observing traffic on public wifi or if the connection you are on has been compromised. Early in my career I connected to a hotel wifi and their router had been compromised. My Gmail session was hijacked by a man in the middle attack and within a few hours suspicious email began flooding forth from my account. Needless to say I changed my password, enabled two factor authentication (also highly recommended) and became infinitely more paranoid during my travels. Now wherever I go, after connecting to the hotel wifi I immediately connect to the corporate VPN before connecting to email or opening my browser. The VPN tunnel provides an additional layer of encrypted protection from prying eyes. I have also just ordered a HooToo and will be adding that to my travel defenses.