3 Tips to be Cyber-Smart Overseas
Crossing the border—or maybe the ocean—to see the world? If you’re taking along your favorite tech tools (laptop, cell phone or other smart devices), you’ll want to know what the rules are and the best way to keep your digital info safe. We pulled together useful information and tips from US government agencies, including the Department of Homeland Security, the FBI, the FCC, and the US State Department to help you be a cyber-smart traveler.
WHN Expert TIP – Travel Light: Consider only bringing the files you need or, even better, store them in the cloud so if your device is hacked or stolen, your information is safe. CSO’s 11 essential data security tips for travelers
1. Update, back up and lockdown.
Before you leave, update all operating system software, antivirus and apps on your devices, back up your files, then password-protect your devices with strong PINs and passwords, says DHS. If possible, use a “clean” laptop, phone and a new email account while traveling. Best strategy: If you can do without the device, don’t take it, says the FBI.
Once overseas, the FBI recommends making it a practice to avoid using Wi-Fi networks since in some countries they are controlled by security services and in all cases they are insecure. Also, clear your browser after each use, deleting history files, caches, cookies, and temporary internet files.
WHN Expert TIP – Has your device been stolen? Report it immediately to the local US Embassy or Consulate. And don’t assume your hotel room is safe. It’s not uncommon for your room and belongings to be searched while you’re away. FBI’s Safety and Security for the Business Professional Traveling Abroad
2. Know you’re being watched—and listened to.
According to the FBI’s Safety and Security for the Business Professional Traveling Abroad, most foreign countries don’t have legal restrictions against technical surveillance. Not only do foreign security services screen incoming visitors to watch for persons of potential intelligence interest, they also work with hotels and common hosts to monitor you, with electronic eavesdropping taking place on airlines, in hotel rooms, taxis, and meeting rooms. Know that everything you send electronically can be intercepted and retained, and think before you transmit.
WHN Expert TIP – Keep Quiet: Don’t share personal or business information or political view with strangers or foreign media. They may have been directed to obtain information in order to exploit you or your company. Instead, change the subject. FBI’s Safety and Security for the Business Professional Traveling Abroad
3. Clean your system.
You may not have been aware that your devices have been compromised while overseas, so when you return, update all your software and change your passwords on all devices, recommends the FCC in Cybersecurity Tips for International Travelers. Also, run your security software to check for any viruses or malware.
WHN Expert TIP – Unpack Your System: Do a post-trip backup of your data and delete any travel apps or information you used on your trip and no longer need. You can always do a restore if you need to. Infosec’s 30+ Cybersecurity Tips for Travelers
For More Information
- US Customs and Border Protection Inspection of Electronic Devices – Tear Sheet
- National Cyber Awareness System Tips
- Safety and Security for U.S. Students Traveling Abroad
Photo Credit: Nicole Harrington