Protecting electronic data when traveling abroad

International travel poses unique risks compared to domestic travel. The differences in legal statutes between nations and the process of crossing international borders can frequently render the typical security controls we use to protect sensitive data unworkable. Once in the foreign country, risks can escalate. Digital espionage is a real concern and university researchers are often targets. The goal isn't always the data you have with you at the time, but also what you have access to when you return. Please keep in mind the following tips when traveling abroad with electronic devices:

  • If you don't need it, don't bring it with you. This includes sensitive contact information. Consider the consequences if your information is stolen.
  • Don't use USB flash drives given to you in a foreign country. If a USB flash drive must be used in a foreign computer, assume you've been compromised and do not use that flash drive on any other computer.
  • Don't access University email or personal email containing University-related information from an unsecured network or WiFi connection.
  • Be aware that public charging stations can be used to infect your device with spy ware.
  • Don't leave electronic devices unattended. In many countries, even a locked hotel room is unsecure.
  • Sanitize your mobile device to ensure no sensitive contact, research, or personal data is on it. The University offers sanitized encrypted flash drives that you can take with you if you must bring sensitive information.
  • Consider leaving your cell phone at home and traveling with a disposable phone.

Here are some recommended sources of information about protecting digital data when traveling.

Note: these external links are to 3rd party online content; if you experience any issues accessing this content, please contact Michele Dondanville.