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Source: Bennett Gold and Informatica Security

Posted on December 16, 2004

      The emerging issues of identity theft and spyware are elevating the threat of data loss for travelers. Two Toronto firms are raising the issue of the threat to user information at airport Internet access points, Internet cafes and in hotels. They collaborated to publish a list of simple tips aimed at helping travelers to protect their data.

      When asked about the risk to the average person's data, Robert Gold, Managing Partner of Bennett Gold Chartered Accountants said: "we found that in a few alarming situations, anyone could walk up to an open hotel terminal and collect confidential data from shared drives or install unauthorized software. People need to understand the privacy and security risk."

      Canadian security expert Claudiu Popa added: "the risk is related to the value of the compromised data, but the threat really targets business and individual travelers alike". He added that lost email passwords, corporate data and intellectual property can be compromised by simply forgetting to disable file sharing or using any infected machine.

The 7 Essential Travel Computing Tips

      1. Prepare in advance of your trip. Anticipate the risks. Never carry written PINs or passwords.

      2. Protect your computer/bags with a personal anti-theft device.

      3. Make stolen PCs unusable by using BIOS and hard drive password locking.

      4. Ensure that stolen data is only accessible by you by encrypting folders and using strong authentication.

      5. Strengthen your system/settings before you travel for added security and deterrence. Also enable screen saver passwords and get a privacy screen.

      6. Manually purge your system of spyware and malware before and during every trip.

      7. Create a last minute backup of the data on your laptop or PDA.

Understand The 6 Risk Areas

      1. Open Internet connections can expose your private and confidential information. Even if you pay for the service.

      2. File sharing allows others access to your computer when connected to the Internet or any other network.

      3. Once compromised, your data is at risk, your computer can be used remotely without your knowledge or authorization.

      4. Malicious software can be manually or remotely installed on unprotected PCs.

      5. The absence of warnings and instructions is usually an indication of lax security measures and limited protection.

      6. Public Internet terminals carry additional risks not limited to virus infections and undetectable keystroke recording programs.

Data Theft Statistics

      - 60% of all corporate data assets reside unprotected on PCs. Source: Search Security Newsletter, April 4, 2002

      - 50% or more Internet access points in hotels and public places are estimated to be vulnerable to security breaches and serve to expose the traveller's data. Source: Informatica Research, November 2004

      - The theft of a laptop results in an average financial loss of $89,000; only a small percentage of the sum actually relates to the hardware cost. Source: 2002 Computer Security Institute/FBI Computer Crime & Security Survey

      - Informal surveys indicate that about 10 to 15 percent of laptops are stolen by criminals intent on selling the data. Source: Securityfocus.com, July 30, 2001

      - IT professionals underestimate the real cost of one stolen notebook by 90%. Source: Kensington Notebook Security Survey, October 2001

      - A study conducted by the FBI found that 57% of computer crimes were linked to stolen computers that were then used to break into computer servers later on. Source: SC Magazine article quoting CSI/FBI

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