For those travelling internationally for work, research, or vacation, protecting personal and institutional data and mobile devices is critical. Individuals face a variety of threats when travelling, and best practices start long before boarding the plane. Faculty, staff, students, and other travelers, please use this check list to prepare yourselves —and your technology—for the unique threats of global travel.
Before You Leave
- Be aware of national data protection laws in your home and destination countries.
Know and follow policies for using various devices, institutional data, and institutional resources.
- Research personal, criminal, and cyber risks in the country or region you’re visiting.
- Purchase and pack privacy screen filters, portable chargers, and country specific plug adapters.
- Be aware that border and/or customs officials may search your devices multiple times and copy data therein.
- Understand that legally confiscated electronic devices may not be returned for months.
- Consult with your IT support professional about special concerns regarding your technology or your destinations.
- See if low-cost, loaner devices are available to mitigate the risk of losing more valuable equipment.
- Ensure your devices have full disk encryption when available and local encryption when not.
- Make sure your antivirus program is updated and performing regular scans.
- Check your cell phone coverage and international data plan options.
- Enable your institution’s VPN access. Be aware some countries block VPN. Talk to your IT support for alternatives if needed.
- Set up institutionally approved, centrally provisioned data storage.
- Back up all data prior to travel, and take only essential data with you.
- Create complex passwords, PINS, codes, and screen locks for your device.
- Keep safe by carrying only necessities, keeping bags zipped, and practicing situational awareness.
- Protect mobile devices by keeping them secure, locked, and hidden from sight when not in use.
- Protect RFID-enabled devices and bank cards with RFID shielded containers.
- Report stolen devices to your native embassy or consulate and other appropriate authorities immediately.
- Protect your data by using privacy screen filters and avoiding public discussions of sensitive data.
- Be wary of charging stations; use wall outlets with your own chargers or external batteries instead.
- Avoid using courtesy computers in business centers.
- Disable broadcast services like Wi-Fi access points, Bluetooth devices, and GPS when not needed.
- Don’t connect to unknown resources like Wi-Fi access points and Bluetooth devices.
- Assume locally provided technology, such as wireless networks, may be vulnerable to attacks or have risky security settings.
- Use VPN access or a viable alternative whenever possible.
- Don’t enter sensitive information while connected to wireless hotspots or unsecured networks.
- Use two-factor authentication whenever possible.
- Don’t install software updates or patches while away from trusted, secured networks.
- Choose private browsing when accessing websites.
- Clear your internet browser of history, caches, cookies, and temporary files after each use.
- Review banking and credit card statements for unauthorised transactions.
- Scan devices for unusual activities with the help of your IT support professional.
- Provide feedback to your IT support professional on what did and did not work well.
- Reestablish normal systems and safeguards with the help of your IT support professional.
- Resume your weekly or monthly data check and back up routines as normal.