Why Your Travel Program Needs To Address Cybersecurity

Our world is more technologically advanced and connected than ever before. Although this gives businesses the opportunity to become more productive and innovative, increased digital connectivity can also leave the door open to additional cybersecurity risks.

By the end of 2024, the cost of cyber-attacks on the global economy is predicted to top $10.5 trillion. This reinforces just how critical it is to protect all sectors of a business from digital threats – including the organization’s travel program.

Beyond the potential for financial loss, cybersecurity threats pose a risk to corporate travel because travel information is often confidential in nature, such as personal data like passport numbers. Those who manage their company’s travel are tasked with protecting this sensitive information on behalf of their travelers, and must stay up to date with how modern cybersecurity threats can impact their travel program.

Digital security is a critical component of corporate duty of care. Just as a company works to protect an employee’s physical safety while traveling, they also need to safeguard the traveler against digital threats. Below we examine how a travel program can be affected by cybersecurity risks and how to keep your travelers and company protected.

Cybersecurity Threats Within the Organization

Traveler negligence can sometimes lead to an insider threat. Issues such as data breaches can occur if an authorized individual misuses their access or has their account hijacked. Often these incidents are not malicious and could stem from the company not communicating their cybersecurity policy properly, or the traveler not being mindful of a digital security risk. Even a decision as seemingly innocent as accessing public wi-fi at a hotel, coffee shop, or airport while on a business trip could lead to data being compromised.

Travel managers can help their organization decrease the chance of an insider threat by incorporating data security best practices into travel policies wherever possible. This can be as straightforward as including reminders on the importance of keeping devices password protected, fully charged, and in a safe storage area.

An additional way to help travelers avoid cybersecurity threats is by partnering with a travel management company. A TMC can not only help safeguard a business by introducing secure, integrated travel systems, but can also give travelers added peace of mind when it comes to cybersecurity on the road.

Threats On the Road

Organizations are responsible for educating their employees about potential cybersecurity risks they may encounter while traveling for work. A company should ensure that their travelers know what to do in the event that a threat arises. The best preventative tip for travelers is that all standard precautions for digital safety should be followed on business trips regardless of the destination, such as:

  • Using remote-access collaboration software to limit the amount of data stored locally on the traveler’s device.
  • Disabling connectivity features such as Bluetooth.
  • Avoiding public wi-fi, or using a VPN if a public network is the only option.
  • Charging devices via standard outlet (as a USB plug is more likely to be compromised.)

Those responsible for managing travel for their company may consider allocating additional resources toward the development of training materials that can speak to the unique cybersecurity needs of the organization. For example, a travel manager could require trainings about the digital best practices in a specific country if they send travelers there on a regular basis, especially if the country is international.

International Travel

While all business trips come with inherent cybersecurity risks, there is an added layer of complexity when it comes to traveling outside the country. Employees have a higher possibility of being exposed to cybercrimes when they travel internationally because they may not be protected by the same data privacy rights they are used to at home. It can be helpful to remind international travelers that:

  • Countries known for corruption may offer little protection against data theft, especially at border crossings.
  • Confiscated devices could be compromised before being returned to their owner.
  • Foreign jurisdiction may lack privacy laws for non-citizens.

When entering the global market, a company can lean on their trusted travel partner to help fulfill next-level duty of care for their travelers. A TMC can provide customizable, flexible technology to help mitigate the risks of international travel.

Cybersecurity and AI

Artificial Intelligence is being incorporated into nearly every aspect of corporate life, and this certainly includes business travel. When it comes specifically to a travel program’s cybersecurity needs, AI can contribute to the resiliency of the program.

Those who manage travel can lean on Artificial Intelligence to assist with data security and enhance their travel program’s existing safety measures. At Direct Travel for instance, our AI-powered assistant Simon not only integrates with customer-facing platforms like MS Teams and Slack, but also assists with tasks such as updating traveler profile information. This gives our clients the ability to automate tasks – and complete them quickly – so their travelers have added peace of mind that their data stays secure while they are on the road.

Vigilance is Key

Education is one of the most important steps toward compliance. If travelers are aware of the digital risks they could face on the road, they’ll be more likely to stay alert and avoid threats.

By enlisting the support of a TMC, travel managers gain a trusted partner who will help them strengthen their cybersecurity efforts and keep their company’s data protected. At Direct Travel, we incorporate cybersecurity best practices into our clients’ risk management policies and work with them to inform their employees about digital threats they may face while traveling.

If you are ready to learn more about our approach to cybersecurity and how it can strengthen your own travel program, get in touch with our team.