Almost everyone now carries WiFi and cellular devices that provide anywhere, anytime access for communication, online shopping, banking, and more. While these technology advances are great, especially for drivers who are rarely in one place for long, they also pose a risk. It seems a week doesn’t pass that we don’t hear about a data breach somewhere. In the trucking industry, a recent cyber attack directly targeted drivers’ personal information. A breach of your personal information can lead to identity theft and damages that can be costly and complicated to repair.
While you cannot predict nor prevent an attack on computer systems you don’t control, there are steps you can take to keep the information on your personal devices safer while you’re on the road. Here are a few tips you can take with you on your next job.
Use Screenlocks and Strong Passwords
It might seem like a giant hassle, unlocking your devices every time you use them. But those few extra seconds it takes to verify your identity can save you in the long run. Set your device to lock the screen within a few minutes of inactivity, and set your password or PIN to something you can remember, but that’s not easily guessed. Especially do not use your name, family birthdays, or any other personally identifying information as a password or pin.
Keep Your Devices and Bags Secured
The easiest way for a data thief to get your information is to start by stealing your device. Secure your laptops and tablets by locking them in your truck in a place that’s not visible through the windows. Using a lockbox inside your cab or sleeper is the safest way to secure your devices when you’re away from your truck.
But remember: your devices are vulnerable to theft when they’re with you, too! Never leave a laptop, tablet, or phone unattended, even for a quick run to the restroom. Also, be aware of how and where you store your laptop case. If it contains personal information or documents, it’s just as valuable to a would-be thief as your device. Keep bags stored safely under your table or chair with the handles tucked in. Or better yet, loop the handle around the leg of the chair you’re sitting on so that it can’t be easily snatched by someone passing by.
Make Sure You’re Using a Secure Public WiFi
Truck stops, restaurants, and coffee shops across the country offer public WiFi that you can use while you’re on break. These fast, free services allow you to connect to the internet and can save you loads on your phone’s data plan. Most of these services are secured and can be trusted. But before connecting your phone, tablet, or laptop to a public WiFi network, keep the following in mind:
- Password-protected WiFi is generally more secure than an open network; you at least know that anyone on the network has permission from the owner. If you’re on an open, unsecured network that doesn’t require a password, avoid accessing your banking sites or entering credit card information into forms. You never know who might be watching.
- Beware of copy-cat networks. Often, would-be data thieves create open networks that look official, but aren’t. Once you connect, you risk getting hacked! Double-check with the restaurant or store owner and validate their WiFi network name and password before connecting.
- If you can’t find a safe and secure network, and you need online access, your best bet is to use your smartphone carrier’s data network. Just be sure you’re mindful of those data and roaming charges!
Disable AirDrop and Other Risky Apps
AirDrop and other apps make it easy to share information between smartphones. However, these apps also allow open access to your phone. While AirDrop seems fun and harmless, and is mostly used to share photos, it has been problematic over the years.That doesn’t mean you can’t use it. Just make sure that you only enable direct phone-to-phone sharing for the time you’re using the app, and then immediately shut it off. Also, be sure you know and trust the origin of the apps that you install on your phone. While most apps on the app stores are harmless, there have been some malicious apps that made it onto people’s phones. Read the description of each app you download, and do a quick web search if you’re unsure about the app creator.
Don’t Let Your Web Browsers or Sites Store Your Credit Card Information
Laptops, tablets, and phones are all portable devices, meaning they can be easily stolen. While it might be tempting to click “Yes” when Google Chrome asks if you want to store your credit card information… don’t do it. Anyone who manages to access your device can use a stored credit card to make purchases on nearly any website, and for any amount.
Even storing your card information on a site like Amazon poses a risk. If someone gets into your laptop or phone, and you’re logged into Amazon, they can use your account to buy whatever they want. If you choose to store your card information on Amazon, always be sure to log out of the site after you’re done shopping, and set up two-factor authentication so that all logins must be verified.
Know How to Spot (and Avoid) Phishing Attempts
Phishing (pronounced “fishing”) attempts are emails or text messages that try to get you to volunteer personal information or login credentials. They often look very convincing, like they came directly from your bank, the IRS, or a company that you do business with, like Netflix or PayPal. They may also come to your company email claiming to be from human resources, or even your company’s management. Phishing emails or texts often claim that you attempted to log in unsuccessfully, or that there is a problem with your payment information, or that your account is somehow limited or compromised. They sometimes even make threats, including account suspension and even legal action.
Responding to the requests in phishing emails and texts can quickly lead to identity theft or account breach. They can even give hackers the keys to your online shopping platforms and bank accounts. If a phishing attempt comes to your company email, responding may lead to a corporate breach, which can put you and everyone you work with at risk.
When determining whether an email or text message is a phishing attempt, keep in mind the following:
- Who? Do you even have an account with the company the communication claims to be from? If so, do you have any reason to believe the claim the email is making?
- What are they asking you to do? Remember, companies like Amazon, PayPal, and others will never ask you for personal information in an email, nor will they send you any kind of link where you can enter that information. If it’s an official email or text, they will instruct you to log in on the site and access your account information from there.
- Where did the email or message originate? If the sender’s email address looks like a giant, random string of characters, it’s not a valid message.
If you think a message might be a phishing attempt, do the following:
- Stop: Don’t respond to the message, and don’t click any links contained within.
- Ask: If the message came to your company email or phone, contact your company’s IT security or helpdesk and ask for help. If the message came to your personal account, you can always verify directly with the company that the sender claims to represent. For example, if you get a message from “Netflix,” go to the actual Netflix site, call the customer support number, and ask them about the validity of the message.
- Delete: Unless otherwise instructed by your employer, delete any phishing emails or texts you receive so that you don’t accidentally click links contained within!
We’re In This Together
Here at F|Staff, we understand that our drivers, carrier partners, and employees depend on technology for so much. Our drivers use the F|Staff app to find work. Our carrier partners use the app to connect with driers. And our employees at our staffing headquarters are trusted with personal information, payroll data, and more. With a little bit of knowledge and some diligence, we can all keep our information as safe as possible while we’re in the office, on the road, or wherever life takes us.
Want to learn more about F|Staff? We’re the truck driver staffing company that’s technology fueled and people-driven.