Unpack, Unwind, Unplug: Is Your Data Going on Vacation with Your Staff?

Summertime, and the living is easy – Vacation days spent by the pool or the campfire, sipping something cool, and checking your work email! Sadly, that’s the reality for many of us.

We asked almost 14,000 people from around the globe about their electronic habits while on vacation. Not surprisingly, most of them could not unplug, even if they wanted to. In the U.S., almost 70 percent of people continue to check their email at least once a day while on vacation. Even those who want to disconnect have trouble staying away; more than half who expressed the intent to remain unplugged during their vacation couldn’t achieve their goal.

I’m not here to debate whether vacationing employees with a digital addiction are good or bad, but it does come with a measure of cybersecurity risk for their employer. Outside of the normal work and home routine, people often lower their guard. With just a quick check of email and the opening of an urgent attachment, it’s possible to get stung by a phishing scam.

Even public Wi-Fi networks can be dangerous. Just need to download a couple of work files? Hey, here’s a Wi-Fi signal, only this network may be run by local criminals for the purpose of luring tourists and catching something valuable.

When your employees take vacations, here are some best practices to share with them,  which will help them, and your corporate data, stay protected:

  • Make sure security software is installed, up-to-date, and active on any devices that are going on the trip.
  • Keep your devices locked and secured when not in use, and require PINs, passwords, or bio-metric security to unlock. Use the hotel safe when available as an extra security measure.
  • Install a privacy or black out screen on your phone and PC to prevent prying eyes on the plane, or beach.
  • Avoid public networks, use only encrypted and password-protected Wi-Fi, and turn off automatic connections on your devices.
  • If you must connect to the office, use encryption and VPN software.
  • Turn off Bluetooth and only enable it when and if you need it, to avoid unwanted connections from other devices.

Many people take their devices on vacation for social and leisure reasons. They want to get travel tips, post on social media, use navigation apps, listen to music, and stay in touch with family and friends. Nothing wrong with any of those things, as long as the corporate data and apps on their devices are properly safeguarded. If you feel your vacation location is too risky, you could even consider backing up and deleting the corporate apps and data before you go, and re-installing them upon return. With cloud backups, this is a quick and simple task.

Vacation is an important refresher for employees, and as a society we often don’t use it enough. We are lucky we live in a time when technology allows us to go on vacation and still take care of a few critical work items even when we are not physically in the office. Some gentle reminders and proactive steps on digital hygiene will ensure that corporate data is secure—even if employees are accessing it from a hammock on the beach.

Want to learn more about our findings? Check out the survey infographic, here.


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