July 05, 2023

Working on Vacation? Learn How to Safeguard Confidential Information

Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, a significant part of the business world has embraced hybrid and remote work, leading to a blurred boundary between work and personal life. According to recent surveys, 26% of U.S. employees worked remotely in 2022, and an Upwork study found that by 2025, there could be as many as 36.2 million Americans working remotely.

Many workers find it challenging to navigate the demands of remote work, which poses a challenge in separating work life from personal life, even during vacation or leisure time. A study indicates that 54% of the professionals surveyed were unable to fully disconnect while on paid time off (PTO).

In North America, summer is a time when more people are traveling. Many workers will seek to relax but continue working. It is crucial to keep personal and professional data security top of mind as people head out on vacation.

Key Elements to Protect Data During Travel Season

Business owners, managers, and all employees can contribute to maintaining a secure work environment before and during vacations. This article outlines three main areas of opportunity and best practices for doing so.

Proper Organization of Workspaces and Confidential Information

Before embarking on your trip, prioritize mobile data, computer protection, and other physical document security measures. Even though you may be taking a holiday, it is important to remember that thieves do not take breaks. Confidential data is potentially more vulnerable during this time since people tend to let their guards down. Those taking a vacation this summer can help keep confidential information secure by doing the following:

  • Power down desktop computers, and lock away mobile devices you aren’t taking. 
  • Clear your desk, and place confidential documents that are no longer needed into locked consoles for secure shredding. A clean desk policy in the workplace is great guidance since it helps ensure physical documents are shredded or contained and that all technological devices are password protected each time an employee leaves a workspace. Adopting a clean desk policy helps to reduce clutter, improves the security and confidentiality of information, and contributes to an organized workspace being a standard practice throughout the organization.
  • Business owners and managers can help ensure that office staff members are aware of information security best practices by displaying or distributing security reminders. 

Keep Work Documents Safe and Secure

Taking work everywhere has become a common practice, with nearly 70% of people working while on vacation. A study conducted by Passport Photo Online revealed that 68% of individuals use their smartphones for work while traveling, leading to difficulties in recharging and relaxing for 62% of respondents. Therefore, it is crucial to consider the following:

  • Only carry essential documents, whether in a physical or electronic format. Minimize the amount of confidential data you bring on your vacation whenever possible.
  • Safely store confidential documents in a briefcase, hotel safe, or a secure location within your personal belongings. Never leave them unattended.
  • Disable Wi-Fi and Bluetooth when not in use to minimize the risk of unauthorized access.
  • Utilize a virtual private network (VPN) when using public Wi-Fi networks, cyber cafes, or hotel connections to enhance data security.
  • Securely dispose of confidential paper documents that are no longer needed. Inquire whether the hotel offers a document destruction service.

Take Care of Travel Documents

When traveling to another country, it is required to carry all essential travel and health documents that contain private information, such as passports, travel visas, and national ID cards. Information contained in these documents is confidential, which is something most people are unaware of. For instance, the barcode on boarding passes holds details about your travel itinerary and frequent flyer information. Passports are also a prime target for theft, with millions reported lost or stolen worldwide each year. Here are key measures to safeguard your data:

  • Prior to your trip, scan a copy of your passport and email it to yourself.
  • Remain cautious of travel scams. One prevalent scam involves stealing a passport directly from the hotel front desk while a distracted traveler checks in.
  • Secure your passport by either locking it in the hotel safe or keeping it hidden and close to your body.
  • Never leave travel documents such as boarding passes, car rental documents, and airline tickets behind.
  • Dispose of documents containing confidential data only if you can verify that they will be securely shredded. If necessary, bring the documents back home and store them safely until they can be securely destroyed.

For more information on physical data protection best practices, employee training, and how paper shredding services can help protect confidential work and travel documents, contact Shred-it®