Entering into the Chinese marketplace is a tempting proposition for many businesses, with the size of the country’s economy and population just two of the enticing factors. And China is increasingly opening up to the world, with friendlier policies aimed at attracting foreign business investment into the country.
However, doubts still persists surrounding some of the tactics employed by the Chinese Government in pursuing economic dominance. Reports still exist of important intellectual property owned by businesses being put at risk on visits to the country by a combination of old-fashioned espionage-style tactics, and modern methods involving viruses which scan the files on your computer. Even a report by the U.S. Office of the National Counterintelligence Executive, delivered to Congress, confirmed that cases of cybertheft in relation to foreign businesses are still a concern when operating in China.
None of these reports, confirmed and unconfirmed, should put you off either a visit to this wonderful country, or exploring the possibility of doing business there. That said, remaining vigilant with your digital data, both in China and in other vulnerable countries, makes smart sense in terms of your valuable business intellectual property.
These five tips should be employed before any visit:
Prepare your devices
There are sometimes reports of devices being checked both at customs, and even occasionally in hotel rooms. This is by no means guaranteed to happen to you, but you should remain vigilant nonetheless, and the first step is to prepare all of your devices in terms of password security and even two-step authentication processes where possible.
Change all of your passwords before entering the country, and don’t leave anything unsecured. Be careful that you have deactivated software that automatically completes user details and passwords for certain applications, and certainly don’t leave any digital device lying around.
Pair down your devices
Another means by which you should prepare your devices are removing data stored directly on them before you travel. This makes smart sense at any time but is particularly recommended before a trip to China. Move everything onto the cloud. This will see the performance of your device improve too.
Use temporary devices, or clean
Although this is entering the realms of James Bond, it could even be recommended to use a throwaway phone for the duration of your visit to China. At the very least, clean your devices upon return and have a look for any suspicious software that may have been added. Once again, this is by no means guaranteed to have happened, but we are talking about remaining extra vigilant, as people should always be when it comes to their business’ intellectual property.
Use VPNs, and be wary of public internet connections
Using VPNs to mask your devices’ IP addresses is, however, probably a good approach, especially if you are using public internet connections in public places. This is certainly an area where you have little control over who can view your digital transactions, so it a wise approach for the duration of your trip. Performed in conjunction with smart browsing practices, and avoiding the sending of sensitive data through emails and the like while you are away, are sensible tactics, and should be considered on all business trips, not just those undertaken to China.
Also be aware that the Chinese Government continues to employ a Great Firewall meaning that there are still a great number of what you would consider normal-to-access sites and applications that cannot be viewed when in China. Your data will also be monitored, and with an IP address that is located in China, you may have difficult accessing sites back in the U.S. and beyond. To avoid these very real difficulties, a VPN is recommended.
Keep Bluetooth and Wi-fi turned off
Another common-sense approach is to simply switch off access points such as Bluetooth and Wi-fi for the majority of your trip. These leave a vulnerability as you could potentially have your devices searched unbeknownst to you through these access points. It may seem like overkill, but these simple techniques go a long way to preserving data security for the duration of your visit.
Katherine Rundell is a tech writer at Marketing Essay Help who specializes in cybersecurity.