It has become common practice to bring electronic devices on trips abroad to keep in contact with family, work and friends. However, even devices that are up to date with security software are still vulnerable to the hazards of traveling. Here are some guidelines to follow to take extra precautions to protect yourself and your information.
Before you go:
- Only bring what you really need. This applies to information stored on devices, devices themselves, and other personal objects like ID cards and credit cards.
- Make sure your laptop and devices are encrypted, but be aware that it is possible that data may be decrypted.
- Make sure you are not traveling with hardware or software that is subject to export controls.
- Follow general best practices for mobile security, especially regarding password protection and software updates.
- If possible, do not travel with your own personal devices. Use a temporary laptop and an inexpensive prepaid phone instead.
For mobile phones:
- Contact your mobile provider to find the most cost-effective plan for your mobile device and make sure you understand your plan’s roaming policy.
- Once you are in the country, enable Wi-Fi and quit all applications to avoid roaming charges.
- Install operating system and anti-virus software updates.
- Back up all data before traveling.
- Turn off file and print sharing to avoid unauthorized access to your files.
- Clear browser history to protect your data.
- Assume that any activity on your device, and especially on the Internet, will be intercepted.
- Keep laptops and devices in your sight at all times.
- Turn off your electronics when they are not in active use. Do not leave them in sleep mode.
- Be wary of your use of public computers, including those in Internet cafes. If possible, do not use shared devices.
- Only connect to secure wireless networks, like those you might get in a hotel.
- Utilize W&M’s VPN or VDI for working with sensitive data or information.
- Make sure you have contact information for W&M IT support ([[support]]).
- When returning home, discontinue use of devices and change all passwords used abroad.
If traveling to countries that are violent, unfriendly or in civil unrest:
- Disable all file sharing.
- Install a privacy screen on your device.
- Disable unnecessary network protocols, including Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and infrared.
- Do not send sensitive messages via email.
- Tape over or disable integrated laptop cameras, and disable integrated microphones.
Looking for additional tech tips for studying abroad? Academic Technology Specialist Michael Blum has some for you: Study Abroad Technology Tips Part One, Preparing for Your Trip