For those traveling internationally for work, research, or vacation, protecting personal and institutional data and mobile devices is critical. Individuals face a variety of threats when traveling, and best practices start long before boarding the plane. Faculty, staff, students, and other travelers, please use this checklist 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. If you need to access University systems through DUO and your cell phone will not be available, you can purchase a DUO hardware token from the CCIT Support Center as an alternative.
- 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.
- Review banking and credit card statements for unauthorized 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.
Effective Practice: Cybersecurity for the International Traveler was provided by the The Research and Education Networks Information Sharing and Analysis Center (REN-ISAC) which serves over 620 member institutions within the higher education and research community by promoting cybersecurity operational protections and response.