Travel Work
Smarter travel: Protecting client and personal data, Part 1
December 29, 2014
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Data privacy is a huge concern for digital nomad professionals, particularly when they carry sensitive client or business data with them. Below, I’ll discuss one category of protection that you can give that data, both from loss and from theft.

In-person protection:

By “in-person protection,” I’m talking about someone stealing your data from the same room that you’re in. It is common for digital nomads to work out of cafes and other public places. A failure to protect equipment and data in these places can result in bad news for you and your client.

Much of this is common sense, but we’ll go over it anyway just to keep it fresh in your mind.

Keep an eye on your stuff:

For a digital nomad professional, it is vitally important to keep tabs on your equipment at all times. Don’t leave your laptop unattended while you run to the bathroom in a cafe. I wouldn’t even rely on the guy working next to you to “keep an eye on it.”

Lock down your stuff:

Another vitally important move to make is to set a password on every piece of equipment you own. Your laptop should be password protected, along with your smartphone, tablet and anything else that could potentially access your accounts and data.

I know it’s annoying to have to input a password every time you check your phone, but weigh the annoyance of that with the serious issues faced when someone else has access to your bank accounts, client emails and other sensitive data.

Some other tips:

One idea is to have a special computer for use outside of the home, like a Google Chromebook. This computer would not have sensitive information on it that could be stolen, but rather it would be accessing a laptop kept at your hotel or home through a remote desktop program or temporarily accessing documents on-the-fly through a cloud-based service.

Another tip is to get rid of a bag that looks like it has a laptop in it. Use a backpack or some other inconspicuous bag to carry your stuff, so it’s less likely that people that someone will want to steal it. Stick your laptop in a nice, padded laptop sleeve that goes into the backpack for your own personal “incognito mode.”

You may find it useful to only bring what is necessary to do the job. If you’re just reading or browsing the web, leave the laptop with the client data on it at home. Just bring a phone or tablet, instead.

Retain the ability to track and remotely wipe your phone, should it get stolen.

None of these things are fool-proof, but they can certainly help to protect your data and your clients’ data from in-person thievery.

In the next Smarter Travel post, I’ll discuss some techniques for protecting the information you send back and forth over the Internet while working abroad.

Photos by me: Cafe Tartine, Bangkok and the view from the Regus office at Asok, Bangkok.

About author

Zachary Strebeck

I'm a solo practice lawyer and full-time digital nomad. I run my law practice at www.strebecklaw.com, representing Internet, mobile software and gaming entrepreneurs. I also blog about digital nomad travel at A Lawyer Abroad.

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