By Tara Drosset
As traveling healthcare professionals, large portions of your private life are conveniently stored in one or two objects you carry close all the time. Laptops, smartphones, and tablets make life so much more convenient on the go, but traveling with them can also make us more vulnerable to cyber-attacks! We know it’s not an option to leave your cellphone at home while you’re on your traveling assignment, but there are some cyber security tips you can keep in your back pocket that can help you and your private information stay digitally secure.
Locks, Passwords, and Browsers
There are a lot of online safety resources to help you protect your sensitive information while on a traveling assignment. But it’s easiest to start with how you lock your devices and the passwords that protect them.
- Always enable two-factor authentication, PINs, or biometrics. These extra security measures are like bodyguards for your personal devices. Think about what authentication combination works best for you and your lifestyle. Whether it’s a fingerprint scan, security questions, or PIN, you want to make sure logging into your devices is convenient to you and no one else.
- Create long passwords and change them regularly. It’s absolutely a pain to keep up with long, ever-changing passwords, but it’s so important! As you travel from assignment to assignment, you sign in to apps and websites from so many locations. It only takes forgetting to sign out one time before someone with malicious intent can see your private info. To keep them all straight, it might help to look into a password manager like LastPass or 1Password. They have apps you can download to keep each device organized and protected.
- Make sure your browser says HTTPS before you reach for that credit card. The “S” at the end of HTTP stands for “Secure” and helps encrypt the transfer of sensitive information against hackers. The next time you’re online shopping or paying an online bill, make sure you’re on a secure, HTTPS browser. And if one’s available to you, always take advantage of a VPN.
Wi-Fi and Bluetooth Connectivity
As busy traveling nurses, Bluetooth capabilities and USB ports in rental cars, airports, or hotel rooms have become a convenience we expect to see in any modern establishment. But before you connect your smartphone or tablet, consider what you’re connecting to!
- Keep your Bluetooth and auto-connect turned off when traveling. In your everyday routine, these features are useful for device-free driving or to pick up where you left off in a captivating podcast but can create some digital headaches for you while on the road. One 2021 security report found that a rental car company could recover 70 phones still connected to the car’s smart dashboard. They could easily see call logs, contacts, text messages, music history, and even Facebook and Twitter activity. You never know how long your connectivity history is visible, so keep that in mind the next time you connect!
- Be wary of public wi-fi. We’re not saying not to use it! Instead, opt for mobile hotspot services or a secure network when you can. If you must use public wi-fi, avoid connecting to anything when you’re looking at financial statements or sensitive data. It’s super helpful to have all your credit card info saved for your favorite online stores, but it really does puts you at risk!
Phishing, Updates, and Backups
Just as you keep up with your health and happiness, it’s also important to keep up with the general maintenance of your personal devices! Ensuring your laptop, smartphone, tablet, or other device is in tip-top shape will help you stay guarded against unwanted digital breaches. The last thing you need is a digital emergency while you’re busy taking care of patients! These are some easy ways to keep up with general maintenance in your spare time.
- Update, Update, Update! When your operating system is equipped with the most up-to-date enhancements, it functions better. But keep an eye out for new or unusual updates that do not look like they came from your manufacturer– this could be a red flag.
- Back up everything. In case you lose or break your device, or in case of a data breach, you can breathe a sigh of relief not having to start over from factory settings. Not to mention all of your favorite photos and memories are still accessible, and you won’t lose all that hard work you put into documenting your travel nurse career.
- Spam, phishing, and malware can happen to anyone, anywhere. Be cautious of suspicious links or emails that need you to take “Urgent” action. A little Google search into an unknown company or person never hurts before you reply, especially when connected to a facility’s network.
Protect Yourself and Your Devices on Your Next Travel Nurse Assignment.
The more our technology evolves, the more training and awareness we need to keep up with potential digital threats. But don’t worry, as you travel from assignment to assignment, your digital street smarts will only get stronger. It’s a lot of information to keep top of mind while on the go, but just remember to keep an eye out for the warning signs, trust your gut, and report suspicious activity when your internal red flag pops up.
As always, contact your recruiter for any help you need when traveling to your next new assignment. And stay digitally safe!