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Cyber Readiness and Response

Business Travelers Do Bad Things At Airports

Created: 20 May 2013 • Updated: 20 May 2013 • 1 comment
Phil Harris's picture
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I travel a fair amount for my work and that wouldn’t be so bad except I’m a security professional that travels for work. I consistently see other business travelers do the same or similar security missteps over and over. I thought it might be a good idea to review my top 5 security missteps or, as I like to call them, “Moron Alerts”. This may seem like a very strong term I use, but consider that many of us have been through security awareness training at our respective companies and yet we still do these bad things. With news reports on an almost daily basis about laptops, mobile devices and/or information being stolen, it’s just very difficult to believe that people, especially business travelers, are still making these bad mistakes consistently.
 

1. Laptop unattended in bathroom entrance

This is a relatively new one for me. A couple of weeks ago I was walking out of the bathroom and noticed an unattended briefcase with a laptop sitting on top in the entryway of the bathroom. So, it’s bad enough to leave a briefcase (most likely with a laptop inside) in this fashion, but to exacerbate this problem by leaving your laptop on top of the bag is just downright Bad, Bad, Bad. You’re just asking and begging for someone to steal your laptop because you’ve made it so much easier for the thief by not putting it your bag. 
 
Solution: Put your laptop in your briefcase and just bring your briefcase into the bathroom with you. It’s not that hard. If you can’t fit the laptop into the briefcase then get an appropriately sized briefcase so you can. 
 

2. Devices unattended at coffee shop

I see this one almost all the time. Sit at Starbucks (or other coffee shop/restaurant) working on your laptop and then either get back in line for more coffee or go to the bathroom leaving the laptop, mobile devices and/or briefcase open and unattended. What’s interesting is a behavioral need to mark our territories to let people know we’re sitting there. People are more inclined to leave valuable items in this fashion and in this case the seat at the table is the most valuable item to risk losing as opposed to the laptop, mobile device and/or briefcase.  
 
Solution:The seat is not that important in the long run.Just pack the stuff up and take it with you. The good news is that another seat will likely come available sooner than you think.

3. Briefcase unattended in the bathroom entrance

I see this all the time. Now I suspect that the laptop is in the briefcase, but at least it’s concealed making it slightly more difficult for a thief. But then again it’s still pretty easy to walk off with the bag and take the laptop or other electronics and/or information somewhere else. Still, your briefcase is unattended and a high risk for theft.
 
Solution: Just bring your briefcase into the bathroom with you. It’s not that hard.
 

4. Mobile devices unattended at power kiosk

People often take advantage of power outlets at airports which is very helpful, however, you can run the risk of having your device stolen. I’ve seen folks plug their device(s) into a power kiosk and walk to the other side of the passenger lounge without clear line of visibility to their device(s). The smaller these devices get, the easier it is to forget how valuable they are.
 
Solution: Find outlets closer to your seat or find a seat closer to the outlets. Seems simple, but there are airports that don’t make this easy. Just keep your devices close to you.
 

5. Visible confidential or sensitive information

For the most part, folks seem to do a good job at protecting information especially as it appears on a laptop screen.Still, there are folks that will sit with their laptop screens prominently positioned for anyone to view the information easily.In the days of massive theft of sensitive data or intellectual property, taking steps to protect information while traveling can do a couple of things: 1) reduce the risk of information theft; and 2) make sure you don’t end up becoming an unwitting target of attackers by waving information around carelessly.
 
Solution:Ensure there’s no one behind you while working on your laptop or mobile device and/or use a screen filter to protect from directview and access to information.

 
What’s your top 5 Moron Alert? 

 

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Joseph.Rogalski's picture

In the past week I have seen multiple laptops left unattended in Airport clubs the other good one is putting down your phone while paying for something.  I have seen this countless times and they are left behind all the time.  Just stick it in you pocket.

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