Cybersecurity should not be limited to the home, office, or classroom. It is important to practice safe online behavior and secure our Internet-enabled mobile devices whenever we travel, as well. The more we travel and access the Internet on the go, the more cyber risks we face. No one is exempt from the threat of cyber crime, at home or on the go, but you can follow these simple tips to stay safe online when traveling.
Before You Go:
Update your mobile software. Treat your mobile device like your home or work computer. Keep your operating system software and apps updated, which will improve your device’s ability to defend against malware.
Back up your information. Back up your contacts, photos, videos, and other mobile device data with another device or cloud service.
Keep it locked. Get into the habit of locking your device when you are not using it. Even if you only step away for a few minutes, that is enough time for someone to steal or destroy your information. Use strong PINs and passwords.
While You Are There
Stop auto-connecting. Disable remote connectivity and Bluetooth. Some devices will automatically seek and connect to available wireless networks. And Bluetooth enables your device to connect wirelessly with other devices, such as headphones or automobile infotainment systems. Disable these features so that you only connect to wireless and Bluetooth networks when you want to.
Think before you connect. Before you connect to any public wireless hotspot – like on an airplane or in an airport, hotel, train/bus station, or café – be sure to confirm the name of the network and exact login procedures with appropriate staff to ensure that the network is legitimate. Do not conduct sensitive activities, such as online shopping, banking, or sensitive work, using a public wireless network. Only use sites that begin with https:// when online shopping or banking. Using your mobile network connection is generally more secure than using a public wireless network.
Think before you click. Use caution when downloading or clicking on any unknown links. Delete emails that are suspicious or are from unknown sources. Review and understand the details of an application before installing.
Guard your mobile device. To prevent theft and unauthorized access or loss of sensitive information, never leave your mobile devices–including any USB or external storage devices–unattended in a public place. Keep your devices secured in taxis, at airports, on airplanes, and in your hotel room.
Unsecured wireless networks. While public wireless networks provide great convenience, allowing people to connect to the Internet from almost anywhere, they are insecure and can allow cyber criminals access to your Internet-enabled devices. Beyond the typical public wireless networks found at airports, restaurants, hotels, and cafes, they are increasingly available in other places, such as on airplanes and in public parks.
Publicly accessible computers. Hotel business centers, libraries, and cyber cafes provide computers that anyone can use. However, travelers cannot trust that these computers are secure. They may not be running the latest operating systems or have updated antivirus software. Cyber criminals may have infected these machines with malicious viruses or install malicious software.
Physical theft of devices. Thieves often target travelers. Meal times are optimum times for thieves to check hotel rooms for unattended laptops. If you are attending a conference or trade show, be especially wary — these venues offer thieves a wider selection of devices that are likely to contain sensitive information, and the conference sessions offer more opportunities for thieves to access guest rooms
1. Create A Backup: Backing up your devices' data to another physical device or the cloud before traveling will keep your data safe in case of a data breach or any unfortunate event where you lose your data or devices on the go.
2. Software Updates: Operating systems in your devices all have built-in security systems that get regular updates from the manufacturer. Keeping your apps and operating system updated will give you better security while you travel. Make sure your devices have the latest security patch installed before leaving home for improved cybersecurity.
3. Auto And Remote Connectivity: Auto connectivity is an extremely useful feature around the house or workplace, which is why most of our devices have this feature turned on. While traveling, your wireless network and Bluetooth can automatically connect to available networks and devices on the go. This can create problems if you connect to a network or device that is malicious. Turning off your devices' auto and remote connect features while traveling will allow you to only connect when you want to connect.
4. Physical Security: Keeping your devices physically secure while in hotel rooms, airports, planes or any other mode of transport will help prevent unauthorized access, physical theft, and consequent data breaches. A good practice is to never leave your devices unattended in a public space or on any means of transport.
5. Locks And Passwords: Using a strong password or PIN is always useful but keeping your device locked at all times is even more important, especially while traveling. If you leave your device unlocked for even a minute or two, it can potentially give hackers enough time to breach your device.
6. Location Sharing: Immediately updating social media networks with pictures and locations is very common among travelers on vacation. This can sometimes be problematic if a cybercriminal has access to your social media pages. They can track your location and use that information to break into your hotel rooms or even your home and steal valuables while you are away. Always be cautious with what you share on social media, especially when it comes to letting people know where you are, or even where you’re not.
7. Public Wireless Networks: Connecting to public hot spots or wireless networks that are available in hotels, planes, cafes and transportation can be risky, which is why you must always confirm with the staff the exact procedures and networks to connect. Often, hackers use these public networks to gather sensitive data. If you are connected to a public network, make sure to only use "https" sites and avoid online shopping or accessing any sensitive data to avoid a security breach. If possible, always use your own data network connection or make sure to have a VPN.
8. Public Computers: More and more public places are allowing access through public computers. Libraries, internet cafes, hotels, and even some restaurants have publicly available computers for you to use and access the internet.
9. Skimmer Devices: A skimmer device is used by criminals to copy your credit card information without ever touching or using your credit card. Criminals need only hover a skimmer device over your credit card for a few seconds to copy its data and use it for personal gains. They can even do this by hovering the device over your wallet or pocket that contains your card. An easy way to avoid this from happening is to use an RFID wallet or cardholder that prevents data theft by creating a digital wall between your card and the skimmer device.
Conclusion: The threat of cybercrime is very real, and the probability of that threat increases when we are vulnerable. That is why a good cybersecurity mindset while traveling is a must. Whether you are traveling for work or vacation, be sure to practice these tips and proceed with caution.
1. Lock Devices Down: Most smartphones, laptops, and tablets come equipped with security settings that will enable you to lock the device using a PIN number or fingerprint ID. Do this on every available device. While traveling, change the PIN numbers you regularly use.
2. Be Cautious of Public Wi-Fi: The laws and regulations that govern cyber security in other countries are typically not going to be the same as those found in the US. Free Wi-Fi access can be very appealing for business or leisure travelers but is also particularly vulnerable to security issues. Avoid unencrypted Wi-Fi networks; ask your hotel about its security protocol before connecting to the Web. Be extra cautious using Internet cafes and free Wi-Fi hotspots; if you must use them, avoid accessing personal accounts or sensitive data while connected to that network.
3. Disable Auto-Connect: Most phones in the US have a setting that allows a device to automatically connect to Wi-Fi networks as you pass through them on your day-to-day activities. While this is a nice feature when used at home, it’s not something you should allow while traveling abroad. Before you travel, change this setting so that your smartphone and laptop must be manually connected each time you wish to access the Web.
4. Minimize Location Sharing: It’s very common for travelers to update social networking sites as they move about new counties or cities. The problem with this type of excessive sharing is that it creates a security threat at home. By signaling your every location, you make it easy for a criminal to determine that you’re not in your hotel room or at your home, leaving your personal belongings within these areas vulnerable to a physical intrusion. Limit the information you post online about your specific whereabouts to limit these threats to your personal property.
5. Install Anti-Virus Protection: This is one of the easiest and most effective ways you can keep your personal information, as well as company information, secure while traveling. In addition to using a trusted brand of security, make sure that you regularly update this software as new versions become available.
6. Update Operating Systems: Just like your anti-virus software, you should keep your operating system as current as possible. This also goes for apps on your phone; take special care to update apps that you regularly use to conduct financial or personal business.
7. Update Passwords: If you plan on traveling, change all of the passwords you regularly use. Similarly, if you must create a PIN for a safe or security box in a hotel room, make sure it’s unique and not something you commonly use. Don’t skimp on password creation either—a numerical sequence is not ideal. Take the time to create something that will keep a criminal out of your personal property. Once you return home, you can change all the passwords back.
8. Disable Bluetooth Connectivity: Just like your phone’s automatic Wi-Fi connectivity, Bluetooth connectivity can present problems. Bluetooth signals can come from anywhere. If your Bluetooth is left on, nearby assailants can connect to your phone and potentially hack into your device. Keep Bluetooth disabled as much as possible while traveling abroad. In addition to implementing these eight cyber security tips for travelers, you should also check out the laws and regulations governing cyber security in each country you plan to visit. By remaining vigilant during your business travels, you can greatly reduce your risk of suffering a cyber threat.
Traveling overseas with high tech equipment, confidential, unpublished, or proprietary information or data - Traveling with certain types of high tech equipment including but not limited to advanced GPS units, scientific equipment, or with controlled, proprietary, or unpublished data in any format may require an export license depending on your travel destination. Federal export and sanctions regulations prohibit the unlicensed export of specific commodities, software, technology, and payments to or from certain countries, entities, and individuals for reasons of national security, foreign policy, or protection of trade. University employees are required to comply with United States export and sanctions regulations when traveling abroad with commodities, software, and technology. ECAS can assist with export and sanction determinations related to your international travel. Helpful information may be found below concerning international travel procedures and best practices to ensure compliance with these federal regulations.
Presentations and discussions must be limited to topics that are not related to controlled commodities, software, or technology unless that information is already published or otherwise already in the public domain. Verify that your technology or information falls into one or more of the following categories prior to traveling: Research that qualifies as fundamental research Published information Publicly available software Educational information
Check with your local export control contact prior to traveling with any commodities, software, or technology that fall into one of the following categories: Controlled Unclassified, or Export Controlled or information under any other restriction including 3rd party proprietary information received under a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) Limited Distribution, Proprietary, Confidential, or Sensitive Specifically designed for military, intelligence, space, encryption software, or nuclear related applications Data or information received under a Non-Disclosure Agreement Data or information that results from a project with contractual constraints on the dissemination of the research results Computer software received with restrictions on export to or on access by non-US Persons