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By Shannon Flynn
Sun | May 1, 2022 | 8:12 AM PDT

Travel can involve significant security risks. Employees may be exposed to new safety threats, whether they're moving within the country or abroad—including physical threats and cybersecurity dangers.

Organizations of all kinds have a responsibility to keep their employees safe while they're traveling. These are the threats workers may face and what enterprises can do to protect them.

The security risks business travelers may face

Travel security and risk management have become increasingly important over the past few years due to the rising threat of cyberattacks and major challenges like the COVID-19 pandemic. Scams, device theft, interception of itineraries from enterprise travel security platforms, and physical safety threats are all potential risks.

These risks may threaten the health and security of a traveler. They may also provide a hacker with confidential information or access to the enterprise network.

What effective travel policies can look like

Because business travel is often a core operational element—even in a post-COVID world—limiting travel isn't an option for many enterprises. Instead, effective travel policies and cybersecurity measures can help mitigate the security risks travel may pose.

Corporate travel policies are an essential component of a business's duty of care framework. They should account for training and tracking travelers and reporting security incidents.

Cybersecurity best practices for traveling employees

Training programs should brief employees on the potential risks they may face, including cybersecurity threats. They should know how to keep themselves safe or respond in the event of a crisis. 

Cybersecurity threats are growing more severe, and experts agree that training is one of the best ways for businesses to defend their employees, customers, and networks. Devices that are left unattended at airports and other crowded locations—such as bus stops and other transit hubs, hotel lobbies, or cafes—are vulnerable to theft and can be a major security risk.

Various common scams used to steal valuables can help hackers deliver a malware payload or access an employee's device.

Training that allows traveling workers to identify these scams may also help protect their physical security and health. The same social engineering tactics hackers use to target workers are used by other scammers and criminals.

Some common scams can also provide hackers with direct access to a traveling employee's device, even without device theft. For example, hackers may set up fake Wi-Fi networks with legitimate-sounding names to capture data from travelers or infect their devices. Other criminals may use public charging stations to infect devices with malware.

Travelers can minimize the threat these risks pose by avoiding these charging stations and not logging into sensitive accounts while connected to public Wi-Fi. A training program that teaches employees to identify and manage these safety threats will help employees keep their devices safe while traveling.

Cybersecurity tools and software can also help protect devices, even when employees fall victim to an attack. Monitoring the enterprise network for unusual network traffic, utilizing up-to-date antivirus software, and requiring strong, unique passwords can minimize the risk an attack may pose.

Take advantage of your travel business partners

Working with travel companies that prioritize security can also mitigate risk. A cyberattack may expose information about your business's traveling employees.

Make cybersecurity awareness part of your vetting process when partnering with a new travel company. Ask questions about the vendor's cybersecurity policies and the tools they use to keep their network—and traveler information—safe from an attack.

Travel-management software can also help the business better manage and track travelers.

Responding to a travel security crisis

In the event of a security crisis, a timely and effective response will be necessary to protect the traveler's safety or company's data.

Your duty of care framework should include action plans or response guidelines employees can use during security crises, enabling the fastest possible response from a pre-designated team.

Travel companies and other businesses that provide duty of care support may be able to provide resources and guidance at these times.

Protecting employees while they travel

Employees may face a wide range of risks and threats while they travel. Effective training and security policies can help enterprises protect their workers. Working with travel partners can also help businesses protect their employees. Many of these businesses use software or track information that may help to support duty of care policies.

Taking steps to ensure workers' safety pays off by protecting them and any vital information they carry.