Today’s tech-savvy road warriors are used to accessing networks practically everywhere they go. Unfortunately, with greater mobility and connectivity comes an increasing array of security threats, including viruses, data breaches and industrial espionage. However with heightened vigilance and simple precautions business travelers can protect themselves from the perils of working on the road.

Network Worries
To begin with, logging on outside the usual safe work environment essentially leaves travelers at the mercy of the network they’re connected to, and in terms of security, it’s usually more vulnerable.

Using an unsecured wireless Internet connection leaves communication open to eavesdropping. Anything sent over such a connection, including credit card details and e-mails, could be intercepted. To combat such dangers, advise travelers to use only secured networks that encrypt the data transmitted, make sure the firewall is turned on and always use an anti-virus program.


Privacy Protection
It’s not just unsecured networks that are the problem; working in public poses a different range of security risks. A 2014 survey of 22,000 business travelers across some 100 countries conducted by global workspace provider Regus found that  59 percent of respondents ranked cafés as offering the least privacy, followed by hotel bars and lounges (50 percent), airplanes (46 percent) and airline lounges (44 percent).

The greatest concern was prying eyes sneaking a peek at confidential information on laptop screens or other devices.  One solution is to seek out dedicated private work spaces found in airport lounges and at off-site offices from providers such as Regus.  

Another option is to add a privacy screen protector. These optical filters effectively reduce the viewing angle, preventing the screen from being viewed from the side.

Sticky Problem
The tiny USB drive can present another big security risk. These small, inexpensive devices are highly portable, so they’re often handed out at conventions and events. However they may also carry malicious software that allows hackers access to the core of the computer and all the data it contains.

To demonstrate the risks, a USB firmware hack called BadUSB was developed to show how a USB flash drive could be reprogrammed to take control of a computer, infiltrate data or spy on the user. The hack, created by security researchers Karsten Nohl and Jakob Lell, was capable of compromising a full system without being detected by current defenses.

The very portability and convenience of USB devices poses another key security risk, since they can easily be lost or stolen. An example of the resulting dire consequences occurred on February 18, 2014, when a pharmacy staff member at Hong Kong’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital misplaced a USB drive containing the personal information of some 92 patients. The USB device was not recovered, and the embarrassed hospital reported the case to the police and the Privacy Commissioner for Personal Data.  

One possible solution to mitigate the risk of using these devices is to turn to the Cloud. These services enable users to access information stored on remote servers over the Internet. But even with secure servers in place, the Cloud can carry its own risks.

Such an instance occurred in 2014 when the files of an Asia-Pacific company stored on a popular free file hosting service were inadvertently leaked through the service’s vulnerabilities. For this reason, companies and employees should be wary of free consumer data storage/transfer services since they may not have the same robust security requirements as those specifically developed for enterprises.

Take It On the Road
The growing prevalence of “bring your own device” (BYOD) to work is opening up new areas of vulnerability, with workers’ personal devices connected to a company’s network offering the potential loss or theft of business-critical information.

As a consequence, such common sense steps as password protection and encryption are a must for any smartphone, tablet or laptop. In addition organizations should implement policies to mitigate the risks posed by BYOD use such as identifying acceptable devices or operating systems to be used by employees, and outlining best practices for protecting company information stored or accessed via mobile devices.

Among the most important security measures: Only use official platforms when downloading apps, and make use of mobile management solutions such as endpoint security software, which will monitor your devices for anomalous activity.

With the increasing popularity and capability of travel-related apps, discovering what mobile technology is available from your travel management company may be the best way to deliver the greatest functionality to travelers while at the same time tapping the TMCs expertise in creating more secure environment.

For example, Carlson Wagonlit Travel has released version 11.0 of its travel app, CWT To Go. In addition to the knowledge that the app is downloaded from a secure, trusted source, new functionality makes it easier to monitor travelers’ trips, provides enhanced airport maps and facilitates contacting a travel counselor through the click-to-call service.

The travel arranger tool allows the arranger to view all their travelers’ upcoming trips in CWT To Go, automatically syncing all the data to the app, thus eliminating the manual tracking process. Flight changes are displayed on the dashboard and arrangers can also use the app to send an SMS to travelers when itineraries change.

“This is the next step towards our goal of creating the super app for managed travel - one that gives clients and travelers exactly what they need, when and where they need it,” said David Moran, executive vice president, CWT. “The enhancements come as a result of both focus groups and user feedback, as well as vision for the future of managed travel applications.”

The travel arranger tool is available on iPhone, with plans to integrate it with Android in future.  CWT To Go, which is free to download, has a 4-star rating on the Apple App Store, and 4.4 stars on Google Play.


Hotel Chains Confirm Data Breach
Hyatt Hotels Corporation is the latest hotel chain to reveal that it recently identified malware on computers that operate the payment processing systems for Hyatt-managed locations. Upon discovering the attack, the company announced it had launched an investigation and engaged third-party cyber security experts.

In December Hilton Worldwide disclosed that it had been affected by a data breach targeting payment card information. The company said in a statement, “This information includes cardholder names, payment card numbers, security codes and expiration dates, but no addresses or personal identification numbers (PINs).” The announcement said that the chain’s reservation and payment systems for hotel rooms were not affected.
Prior to that, Starwood Hotels & Resorts announced that point of sale systems at a limited number of its hotels in North America were infected with malware, enabling unauthorized parties to access payment card data of some customers. Malware was detected that affected certain restaurants, gift shops and other point of sale systems at the relevant Starwood properties. There is no indication that the company’s guest reservation or Starwood Preferred Guest membership systems were impacted.

All three companies have said they have taken steps to strengthen the security of the systems involved and are offering information to guests who may have been affected through their call centers and websites.

Customers are advised to review their payment card account statements closely and report any unauthorized charges to their card issuer immediately. Payment card rules generally provide that cardholders are not responsible for unauthorized charges that are timely reported.

JAL Offers Mobile Site in English for Domestic Service
Japan Airlines has launched mobile site in English for domestic service, providing English-speaking customers with domestic flight booking and purchase capabilities and the ability to view reservations, functions which are same as those on JAL’s website for domesitc flights in English.

The number of foreign visitors to Japan has already reached more than 15 million, and is expected to achieve 20 million in 2015. To meet more foreign customers’ need, JAL has upgraded the English website in Japan to give foreign travelers easier access to the airline’s domestic flights.

Features of the new mobile site include a simple design layout which is easy to understand and navigate. Customers can book and purchase domestic flight tickets quickly even during travel. Customers can also view their reservation. By checking “Flexible Travel Dates” in date selection of vacant seat inquiry, you can compare and check the matrix for lowest fare before and after the travel date.
The URL to mobile site is

LAN and TAM Roll Out New Tech For Pilots and Cabin Crew
LAN and TAM, members of LATAM Airlines Group, are providing their pilots and cabin crew members with tablets equipped with applications geared to facilitate, optimize and improve the information management process for flight operations and on-board service.

The new system speeds up the information management process for each flight, reducing data processing time from 15 days to only 1 day in some cases. In addition the company expects to reduce the consumption of paper by up to 100,000 sheets per month, plus lowering aircraft fuel consumption and decreasing about 3,000 tons of CO2 emissions annually by eliminating the weight of computers and documents that used to be carried on-board.

Digital Payments Market Expected to Mature in 2016
The year ahead may be the digital payments market’s breakout year. With eWallets set to overtake credit cards, NFC technology available from vendors like Apple, Samsung, and Google, and banks and brands both rolling out their own mobile payment apps to compete for consumer loyalty, 2016 will signal “the third age of digital payments,” according to payments leader Worldpay.

In its latest Global Payment Report, Worldpay also found that alternative payment methods inched past card payments for the first time ever with 51 percent of market share. The report predicts this gap will widen in 2016 and beyond as more consumers opt for the convenience of "e" payment options over traditional plastic payment methods.

“The first age of digital payments kicked off with the eCommerce boom in the early 2000s when companies like PayPal and AliPay introduced eWallets to the mainstream,” said Tang Kok San, vice president of business development in China at Worldpay. “The second phase coincided with the rise of the smartphone at the beginning of the decade.”

However Kok San noted, “I expect the next few years will see a consolidation of the market as the public hones in on their preferred payment methods and conscientious merchants feel more confident buying into technologies that their customers have already embraced.”

Etihad and Cognizant Partner to Enhance the Digital Experience
Etihad Airways, the national airline of the United Arab Emirates, and Cognizant, a provider of information technology, consulting, and business process outsourcing services, have announced a three-year, multi-million dollar strategic agreement.

Under the deal, Cognizant will help the airline and its equity partners define digital strategy and reimagine the guest experience across the group. Cognizant will conduct a comprehensive study of Etihad Airways’ current business and technology footprint to design and implement a best-in-class digital ecosystem, enabling multi-channel distribution and personalized customer marketing.

“Our guests are increasingly turning to digital channels to connect with us, and therefore we recognize the importance of delivering a personalized and seamless guest experience across all touch-points,” noted Peter Baumgartner, Etihad Airways’ chief commercial officer. “The scope includes digital tools and data insights for our customer-facing staff to further enhance their ability to provide a more customized and personalized service to our guests.”

Global Average Connection Speeds Continue to Rise
Globally the average speed of Internet connection increased slightly in the third quarter 2015, rising 0.2 percent to 5.1 Mbps compared with the second quarter, according to the Third Quarter, 2015 State of the Internet Report from Akamai Technologies, Inc., a worldwide provider of content delivery network (CDN) services. That spells a 14 percent increase in average connection speed year-over-year.
Based on data gathered from the Akamai Intelligent Platform, the report found that South Korea had the top average connection speed at 20.5 Mbps, which nonetheless is a year-over-year drop of 19 percent since the third quarter of 2014.

Truphone Acquires CoSwitched IOT Platform
Truphone, the global mobile network, has acquired the Internet of Things Connectivity Management Platform from CoSwitched. The IoT management platform addresses the ecosystem of connected machines, such as cars, asset trackers or smart meters. The acquisition allows Truphone to meet the demand from international businesses for seamless machine connectivity across multiple countries.

"Through this acquisition we'll be able to apply our core product benefits to the Internet of Things ecosystems and address the demand of international customers for a consolidated proposition across multiple markets,” said Steve Robertson, CEO of Truphone. “Our unique product set and high quality connectivity, supported by our global network and partner positions enable us to exploit the significant opportunities in this space."