5 Tips for Traveling While Working in Cyber
This article is about how to travel extensively while working in cybersecurity. The ability to travel while working in cyber will depend greatly on your employer and what position you have. To learn more about various career positions in cybersecurity, see our careers here. We’ve also discussed the types of cyber jobs that are often work-from-home arrangements.
One of the best things about a career in cybersecurity is the freedom that it can give you. Whether you prefer working in an office on-site or working from home, cybersecurity offers a wide range of jobs that suit nearly all needs.
One work arrangement that is possible in cybersecurity is the ability to travel the country, or possibly even the world, while working your cybersecurity job remotely.
If you want to travel extensively while working in the cybersecurity field, it’s critical that you understand what’s expected of you when you’re working off-site.
These helpful tips will ensure that you avoid any unpleasant disputes with your employer, and if travel is approved, you’ll be able to maintain your organization’s security protocols.
1. Make sure that travel is allowed and approved.
For obvious reasons, travel just isn’t allowed for all cybersecurity positions. As a cybersecurity professional, you’ll be the person who has access to an organization’s sensitive data and intimate knowledge of their security infrastructure. Depending on your level of clearance, if a hacker were able to steal your credentials via your laptop or smartphone, your employer’s confidential data could be severely compromised.
Many very high -evel cybersecurity professionals aren’t allowed to travel at all while working, so your first step is to make sure that your company allows it. It’s critical that you let your employer know what you’re planning, because secure cybersecurity positions are very sensitive to whether data can be accessed from off-site, and if so, in what manner that can occur.
In actual remote positions, trust is essential, and what you might consider a harmless day’s work at the local coffee shop could result in the security breach that gets you fired, or worse.
Bottom line: If the trip you’re planning isn’t sponsored by your company, make sure that travel is okay.
2. If travel is allowed while on-the-job, you’ll probably be using a VPN.
A Virtual Private Network (VPN) is a go-to resource for off-site cybersecurity professionals. A VPN is essentially a private, secure network that allows you to access company resources without using public Wi-Fi.
Public Wi-Fi is notoriously insecure, and the odds are that whatever you’re browsing on your personal laptop or phone can be visible to any outsider using the same network. If you’re using a device containing sensitive data, or if you’re accessing sensitive data, you should never use a public Wi-Fi service.
Cybersecurity professionals find VPNs an especially useful service because their security forbids unauthorized users from accessing the network. When you log in to a VPN, you have access to whatever data your organization has given you permission to see, but the minute you log off that access is gone.
Keep in mind that when you are using a VPN while traveling, your VPN needs to allow national/international connections. Not all VPNs have this feature.
The best VPNs include:
- TorGuard VPN
- Proton VPN
- IPVanish VPN
- Private Internet Access VPN
With any VPN setup, your company will most likely have this implemented already, and will have very specific written policies regarding how the remote connection VPN is to be used. Part of the written policy will most likely include what is to occur if your equipment is lost or stolen, including how you are to report that loss and how the system will be remotely disabled, wiped, and possibly located.
Bottom line: Make sure you understand how to use your company’s remote connectivity technology, and that you understand what your employee requirements are regarding it’s use.
3. You may need special approval depending on where you’re going.
With security being such a huge priority and you being a big part of that security, you may find that getting approval to travel depends on your destination. Some areas are considered a higher security risk than others, particularly if you are a federal worker or government contractor, and especially if you have a security clearance.
It is not uncommon for cybersecurity professionals, and especially those with clearances and jobs that relate to governmental systems to have very strict rules regarding the reporting process of their travel. Most importantly, this includes any travel that they may choose to do abroad.
In many cybersecurity jobs, your decision to travel extensively, or to travel out of the country, will require pre-approval, which could be lengthy, very specific reporting requirements regarding where you will be and for how long, and a requirement to be debriefed upon your return to the country. It is critical that you know how travel to various locations may change what your approval requirements are.
Bottom line: Make sure you check what areas it’s safe, and authorized to travel to before making any plans.
4. You’ll need internet access.
Assuming you have followed the steps above and have secured approval to travel while continuing to work your cybersecurity job, you’ll now need to turn your focus to logistics of working remotely, which first and foremost, means access to reliable internet connectivity. Wherever you go to work, internet accessibility is a must. If you can’t access your job remotely, you can’t work at all, or do the job that you’ve been hired to do. Traveling to a place where you’ll have to go without internet access for an extended period of time is definitely not a good idea, and there are still many locations in the United States and throughout the world that have very unreliable internet access, or even no access at all.
The best approach to ensuring you can still get connected and complete your work as required is to plan ahead and check with any locations where you may be staying beforehand. You may find that you’ll need to adapt, as your hotel may be limited, for example, however, the local coffee shop in town ends up being a good alternative.
Bottom line: Plan ahead for your internet connectivity and be prepared to adapt or work from a different location based on availability.
5. Backup/protective equipment is a must.
When you’re traveling with electronics, it’s always good to be prepared, especially for a cybersecurity professional. You always need access to working equipment, whether it’s a tablet or laptop, and here are a few resources that can make ensure that availability:
- Accessories organizer – when you’re on the go, it may be useful to have organized storage for USBs, SD cards, charging cables, etc.
- Power adapter – if you’re traveling out of the country, you may need a power adapter. A power adapter is an essential travel item if you want to use your personal electronics abroad
- Power station – this may seem like overkill, but it’s always best to have a reliable power supply wherever you go. Consider taking a portable generator with you to ensure that you always have backup power
- Laptop case – make sure you have a good quality laptop case to prevent damage during travel
- Charger – for your laptop and your phone, it’s best to have backup charges in case of any damage. Chargers are one of those items you definitely don’t want to lose
- Computer/notebook lock – you’ll want to secure your devices, so be sure to limit the accessibility of your laptop to other users
It’s important to think through what you’ll do, or will have to do, if some part of your technology were to fail. What would you need to do, for example, if your cell phone were to die or get lost. How would you need to adapt if the battery for your work-issued laptop were to fail? Would you have a way to get a replacement if needed? Would you be able, and authorized to use a different device to connect back to your work systems?
Bottom line: Thinking through how to work around these issues is a good idea, and something that you should do before you take your trip.
Traveling extensively for enjoyment while maintaining a cybersecurity job is certainly very doable. In the coming years, more professionals in all fields will find ways to travel the country, or even the world, while still completing work and holding down their full-time jobs.
To arrange for an extended travel trip while still working, be sure to be aware of your company’s specific policies and any requirements regarding any clearance you may have. It’s probably best to make sure your employer is aware of your intent to travel and be prepared to alleviate any concerns that they will certainly have regarding how you’ll still maintain your job, meet your deadlines, and be accessible when needed.
Once you have approval, be sure to plan ahead regarding where you’ll be and when, what internet access you’ll have from each location, and what you’ll do if you have an issue with your technology. Above all else, a best practice is to make sure your accessibility and quality of work is above par so that your employer has no reason to discourage or even disapprove of continued travel in the future.