It may be fine to chat on your cellphone or use your BlackBerry on the street when you’re at home, but you should drop these habits when traveling abroad. McCann says if you’re absorbed in something to the exclusion of everyone around you, you’re setting yourself up as prey. “Criminals strike most when people aren’t paying attention,” he says.
updated 6/5/2007 2:56:03 PM ET 2007-06-05T18:56:03

Next time you travel for work, make sure you pay as much attention to your well-being as you do to requesting a wake-up call or finding the local power dining spot.

Over-reaction? Not so. "Most business travelers think they travel well and smart, but they actually don't,” says Kelly McCann, president of the security group at Kroll, the risk consultancy. "They usually don't think about safety either because nothing has happened to them or whatever steps they have to take to guard their safety can be a minor inconvenience.”

First place to protect: your home. McCann says that if you're leaving behind an empty house, and you have an alarm system, make sure you advertise it with a lawn sign or a sticker on your front and back doors. Instead of canceling your newspaper, have your neighbor pick it up for you.

The key to keeping your house safe, Kelly says, is to show signs of life even if nobody is there. Another way to do this? Have your sprinklers and lights set to a timer so they turn on and off when you're away.

You also need to safeguard your personal information when you travel.

An April 2007 survey conducted by the security software company Symantec with Harris Interactive polling service found that 35% of consumers with wirelessly enabled laptops use them at airports. Zulfikar Ramzan, a senior software engineer with the security response team at Symantec, says hackers can easily set up dummy wireless connection points in terminals that appear on your computer like legitimate ones.

"A dummy point looks just like any other wireless connection," he says. "If you log onto one, it means that any personal information on your computer can be viewed."

A simple way to reduce the chances of this happening is to make sure your connection point is genuine. Legitimate Wi-Fi areas at airports feature connections that are made through a protected network and usually have official signs posted nearby listing secure addresses.

Personal information is at risk when you travel. Minimize the likelihood of a security breach by making sure your connection point is legitimate--there are usually signs at Wi-Fi areas at airports listing official points.
Still, even the most cautious can be targets. If you are robbed when you travel, Ira Somerson, a security consultant for the Blue Bell, Pa.-based Loss Management Consultants, says you should head to the local U.S. consulate and meet with the regional security officer--this is a person in each consulate who handles security for that area.

"The consulate can take the right steps in dealing with local authorities to report your theft," he says. If your passport is stolen, for example, it can help you secure a new one. It can also help with broadcasting information about the theft to local news outlets.

Would you rather think about securing a reservation at Jamavar in Bangalore for your next deal-closing dinner? Of course. But if your computer's been hacked or your home burglarized, your seat's likely to be empty.

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