Survey: Most Employees Unaware of Travel Security Threats

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A lot of employees are flouting common security measures while traveling.

The holiday season is soon approaching and many people are preparing to travel around the United States and internationally. They will pack laptops, tablet and smartphones—some of them work devices—so they can stay connected on their trips. 

A high percentage of these people, however, have no idea how to keep those devices and gadgets secure. According to a survey released Thursday from ObserveIT, most employees are unaware of common security threats while traveling. 

To conduct the survey, ObserveIT talked to more than 1,000 employees in the U.S., ranging from 18 to 65.

The survey discovered that 55 percent of respondents will bring an official work device while traveling. But 49 percent are either unaware if their employer has travel-related security guidelines or their employer simply doesn't have any guidelines at all. 

That confusion over security rules makes more sense given that 77 percent of people surveyed said they connect to free or public Wi-Fi while traveling and 63 percent of respondents said they use that free or public Wi-Fi to access their work email accounts.

Not everyone is completely flouting security, though. The survey reveals that 17 percent of people use a Virtual Private Network, known as a VPN, to connect securely outside of the office. But that raises the question, what's stopping the other 83 percent from taking the time to ensure a secure connection? 

"Not only does this research confirm that cybersecurity isn’t top of mind while employees are traveling, but it also highlights a major gap in security awareness training around mitigating the threats posed by remote work,” said ObserveIT CEO Mike McKee. 

So what can you do to stay secure while you travel?

Public Wi-Fi networks leave you incredibly vulnerable to hackers. Using a VPN can make it safer, but if you simply must get online to take care of important business at an airport or at a cafe on the road, security experts recommend you use your cellular data. Additionally, keep Bluetooth turned off when you're not using it. Someone can easily connect to your phone using the Bluetooth and steal your information. 

Before you take a trip anywhere, it's important to keep your devices updated, including all the operating system and any apps. This will give your gadgets the best defense against malware and other threats.