The holiday season is upon us which often means traveling. Here are some tips that may be obvious but are worth mentioning again, even for the experienced traveler.

I am sure your schedules from time to time include traveling away from your office and home even if it is local. If your laptop is stolen or lost then your business and personal information can be exposed. Use these tips to learn how you can keep your laptop and data more secure when you’re on the road.

Protect it from Getting Lost or Stolen: Always keep your eye on your computer bag even when going through security check-out. Also instead of putting your bag by your feet it is actually better to hold it instead. It is surprisingly how often computer bags are taken right from people even when it is right next to their feet. Even consider carrying your laptop and other devices in less obvious bags then a computer bag but make sure it is padded so it does not get damaged. Install device finder software, such as Computrace (for laptops) or Lookout (for tablets and phones) just in case it does get lost or stolen. It just may help you locate it.

Passwords: All of your devices should have strong password with letters, numbers, caps and special characters to log into them. Always keep any security access information separate from the laptop/computer or any other device. Placing the password in the same location as the device is like leaving your keys in the car or your front door. Not having the password or access information available will make it that much more difficult for others to access the system.

Turn off file and printer sharing: Wireless or not, network shares expose your system to unnecessary risk while traveling. File sharing protocols often advertise your presence on the network. In public areas like the airport, a café, or even a hotel you don’t want to draw attention to your computer on the network.

Configure your firewall to block inbound connections: In the Windows firewall this is accomplished by clicking the “No Exceptions” check box. Any open ports that you are unaware of will not be able to accept connections.

Wireless: Turning off an idle wireless card when not being used conserves battery power and stops your system from advertising what networks you have been using. Also, don’t use public wireless, unless you take precautions as public wireless are inherently insecure. Make sure all operating system; anti-virus and anti-malware software is current and install it on all of your devices including your phone.

Documents: Setup your documents in the cloud using Skydrive, Drop-Box or Google Docs so they are safely stored and accessible over the internet from any computer you have access.

Cell Phones: Remember to talk to your provider about the plans available just in case you are not covered where you are traveling. Roaming can be costly. Remember to see about limiting or turning off data usage on your cell phone. May even want to make calls at low or no costs by using Skype or consider using Google+ Hangouts to chat instead.

And most important of all……be safe, build relationships and have fun!

About Your Columnist

Francine Otterson is a featured columnist for Women Taking Charge, the official blog of Connected Women of Influence, where she covers technology and business solutions. Currently, Francine is the CEO and Chief Technologist of Service Desk West where they specialize in providing the SMB sector with full service IT support and business technology solutions.

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