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Cyber Risks on the Road Bad News for IT Consultants

Cyber Risks on the Road Bad News for IT Consultants

Parking lots, taxicabs, and smart cars have all been hacked. Here's how IT consultants and their clients can avoid cyber risk while traveling for work.

Monday, December 22, 2014/Categories: cyber-liability

As more devices are Internet-enabled, cyber liability can follow an IT consultant everywhere. Even on the road. But many businesses don't think to have a policy that addresses the IT risks traveling employees face.

In this article, we'll highlight two growing cyber risks consultants face while traveling for work:

  • Identity theft from payments for parking lots, cabs, and other traveling expenses.
  • Hacks on Internet-enabled cars.

Parking Data Breach: Yet Another Reason to Hate Parking

If you've ever tried to park in Chicago, you know it's a nightmare. And it just got worse. Advisen reports on a spree of data breaches that have hit Chicago-area parking lots, affecting 13 locations between September and November.

In the same way that hackers have been able to install malware on retail stores' credit card readers, criminals have been able to put malicious software onto card systems that parking lots use. Many of the infected lots were high profile (including the lot for the John Hancock Tower) and likely stole credit card data from people on business trips.

Last winter, Chicago also saw numerous credit card data breaches for area taxicabs. Chicago Tribune reported that at least four cab companies were hit with the attack, including Checker, Yellow, and American United.

What does it mean for small businesses? Be wary and take precautions. If you have a business credit card…

  • Make sure it has anti-fraud protections.
  • Check credit card bills each month.
  • Look for fraudulent purchases.

Small business credit cards don't always have the same protections that consumer credit cards do.

Hack Your Ride: Why Researchers Are Worried about Smart Cars

Why the worry about smart cars? It's not like hackers can suddenly switch off the brakes and cause an accident, right? Actually, they can.

Because modern cars use computers to time engines, braking systems, and other key components, hackers can shut down vital safety mechanisms and even cause crashes.

In our article, "Black Hat Security Conference: Hackers Can Steal Your Car," we reported on the ingenious ways two security researchers, Charlie Miller and Chris Valasek, found to break into cars. They commandeered a Prius's braking system and showed proof-of-concept hacks for many other car models.

Now, months later, these same security researchers have been hired by automakers to find a way to shore up car security. These concerns aren't just about driver safety; there's also a question of data security.

Cars equipped with "hotspot" technology to give Internet access to connected smart phones and laptops could potentially compromise a user's data. With the right malware, a hacker would be able to steal any data transmitted over the car's network.

While these car hotspots aren't common yet, carmakers are rushing to offer more Internet-enabled automobiles. We're likely to see a growth in this technology over the next few years. Despite the appeal of convenience, it opens up a can of worms when it comes to data security.

Final Thoughts on Strategies to Minimize Cyber Risks on the Road

Of course, parking lot data breaches and hacked smart cars aren't the only cyber liabilities a business has while traveling. It's easier for devices to be lost or stolen while employees are on the road, and many consultants might be tempted to use open Wi-Fi at a hotel or Starbucks.

The best strategy is to remind clients, consultants, and employees of these risks before traveling. And don't let them get behind the wheel of a car with malware.

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