I've written around a dozen books about computer security and keeping your computer protected from the bad guys. But when I travel, I still need to remember the simple steps that can make computing safe and productive while on the road.Business travelers are easy targets for computer bugs, known as malware, as they can hop on unprotected networks around the world. So let's look at five of the 10 most important things you need to do to make sure you don't bring home more than you expected from your business trip -- like a computer virus or spyware. At the Davos conference in January, Internet guru and Google ( GOOG) vice president Vint Cerf estimated that at least one-fourth of the 600 million computers connected to the Internet -- about 150 million machines -- are infected with some type of malware. That adds up to a lot of exposed personal and business data. So how can you keep your information safe?
It's fairly easy to do this, and your operating system's help screen can guide you. It's usually found under the Properties screen of your Network Connection.
Symantec , Zone Alarm and McAfee . All three offer Internet security suites that include personal firewalls with virus detection, and free updates for a year. Your laptop might not have specific antispyware programs installed, however. Two of my favorite ones, Ad-Aware Personal SE and Spybot Search and Destroy are free, so you don't have any excuse not to use them. I run both, as different software sometimes finds different bugs.
Sometimes hackers install keylogging software on shared computers to record and distribute personal-account information. Trojan horses have been installed on copy shop and hotel shared computers, and users' banking passwords have been stolen and distributed. So if possible, never use a public computer for personal banking or sensitive communications.