The Top 5 Preventable Risks of Employee Travel

Posted on Nov 06, 2017

As a company's global footprint expands, traveling employees become both an asset and a potential liability. To manage travel risks, staying up-to-date on the most severe travel threats is imperative. By understanding the following risks, companies can protect their employees and interests overseas:

The Top 5 Preventable Risks of Employee Travel

1)   Food and Water-Related Illness
Though injuries due to terrorism abroad may command media attention, food and waterborne illnesses are more widespread. The last World Wide Health Organization (WHO) study conducted on annual foodborne burden found a mortality rate of 420,000 deaths worldwide. To stay healthy, employees can: 

  • Drink bottled water
  • Choose thoroughly cooked foods
  • Check their company's travel management program for host countries' food and water risk assessments

2)  RFID Scanning
Physically safeguarding employee IDs, Passports, Visas, and Boarding passes is straightforward, but the upswing in digital theft of ID, Passport, and credit card/debit card information presents a new challenge. Many passports and credit/debit cards are now RFID-enabled. Stolen information through RFID scanning can facilitate fraudulent transactions, the impersonation of the victim to triangulate the positions of coworkers, and theft of company data. Employees can keep their documentation secure by following these precautions: 

  • Wear RFID-proof money belts
  • Find information regarding locations with high risks of theft through company-provided country reports
  • Use ATMs with prominent banks' branding to protect both employees and company funds

3.  Employee Lack of Awareness of Security Issues

In an earlier time, lack of cultural awareness might not have meant dangerous conditions for the traveling employee, but times have changed. Warnings of terrorist activity and kidnappings continue in the Philippines and other countries. Such threats change and evolve. Though the risk of sustaining harm from terrorism or kidnapping is slight, the impact would be catastrophic for both the employee and their company.  Companies can protect employees by heavily monitoring international terrorism threats and briefing employees on security risks before the time of travel.  Employees can also: 

  • Join the U.S. Department of State STEP program
  • Schedule check-ins with support teams, family, and colleagues
  • Learn emergency response protocols

4.  Vaccine-Preventable Illness
Should a traveler contract a vaccine-preventable illness, the risk is two-fold: the traveler could have contracted a virus, but some viruses may remain dormant in a traveler's body during travel only to become infectious years after exposure. The possibility of delayed infection puts both the traveling employee and employees at home at risk.  Employees can protect their health by following these measures:  

  • Obtain the necessary vaccinations before travel
  • Use the CDC as an additional prevention resource
  • Research viruses common to the destination and practice prevention

5.  Data Security

Data security breaches on laptops and other mobile devices abroad have become increasingly severe. Recent hackers have begun switching Wi-Fi users from a safe network to a Wi-Fi network owned by the hacker. Stolen data from these attacks arms hackers with log-in passwords and the ability to obtain thousands of dollars before employees know theft occurred. Using personal Wi-Fi hotspots is also a risk as hotspots lack WPA or WPA2 protection. Without safeguards, hackers can hijack a Wi-Fi hotspot session and log into an employee laptop to impersonate the employee, scam contacts, and enter sites storing personal or company financial information.  Employees can protect themselves with the following strategies:  

  • Use a Virtual Personal Network abroad
  • Follow company tips concerning criminal activity overseas and safeguarding data stored on laptops and mobile devices. 

Make sure your employees have the tools to stay safe wherever they travel. For more travel tips and essential travel risk management news from NC4, subscribe to our blog here.

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