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Business travellers are more likely to be mugged of valuable private and corporate data than of their travel money, and yet their indiscriminate behavior while online, particularly among senior executives, is playing into the hands of cybercriminals, according to Kaspersky Lab.

At the same time, half of people traveling for work (54 per cent) and up to 62 per cent of senior executives make no distinction between their behaviors when abroad, despite the fact they are a long way from the security of their work communications networks, and they are handling employers’ confidential data at work.

The study from Kaspersky Lab polled 11,850 people from across Europe, Russia, Latin America, Asia Pacific and the US. It found the pressure from work to get online is clouding the judgment of business travelers when connecting to the Internet.

Three in five (59 per cent) of people in senior roles said they tried to log on as quickly as possible upon arrival abroad because there was an expectation at work to stay connected. By the time business travelers reached the arrivals terminal, one in six was using their work device to get online.

Almost half (48 per cent) of senior managers and more than two in five (43 per cent) of mid-level managers used unsecure public access Wi-Fi networks to connect their work devices when abroad. At least two in five (44 per cent and 40 per cent, respectively) used Wi-Fi to transmit work emails with sensitive or confidential attachments.

One reason business travelers were doing so, the report found, is a widely held assumption their work devices are inherently more secure than private communications tools, regardless of their connectivity.

Two in five (41 per cent) expected their employers to have set strong security measures. This is most pronounced among business leaders (53 per cent) and mid-level executives (46 per cent).

Twice as many (47 per cent) thought that, if employers were to send staff overseas, they must accept any security risks that go with it. But a large proportion of business travelers, and particularly business leaders, were not helping with their indiscriminate behavior when abroad.

One in five (20 per cent) senior executives admitted to using work devices to access websites of a sensitive nature via Wi-Fi – compared to an average 12 per cent. One in four (27 per cent) have done the same for online banking – compared to an average 16 per cent.

Konstantin Voronkov, head of Endpoint Product Management at Kaspersky Lab, said: “This report shows us that cybercrime is a real hazard while traveling and employees are putting confidential business information at risk.

“The insight provided by the report should be a red flag for corporate information security specialists, as the business travel behavior we have unearthed here presents a significant corporate data protection challenge. It’s now up to businesses to respond with appropriate security solutions, if they wish to protect themselves.

“At first, we recommend explaining the threat to employees, as awareness is the first step to protection. Another important countermeasure is security over unsafe networks, such as using VPN to access the corporate network, and email encryption.

“In addition, multilayered endpoint protection should be implemented, including anti-malware, exploit prevention, host-based intrusion protection and firewall, URL filtering technologies and installation of the most up to date software and system patches.

“When you are out of your corporate network perimeter, the most efficient, and often the only protection applicable, is that on your laptop or mobile device.”

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