Information, Technology & Consulting

Security Tips for Traveling at Home and Abroad

We all like to travel with our mobile devices (smartphones, laptops, or tablets) — whether it’s just a trip to Umpleby’s or to a café in Paris. These devices make it easy for us to stay connected while on the go, but they can also store a lot of information — including contacts, photos, videos, location, and other personal and financial data — about ourselves and our friends and family. Following are some ways to protect yourself and others.

Before you go:

If you plan on using Dartmouth’s online resources, learn how to establish a secure connection to Dartmouth’s Virtual Private Network (VPN).

If you take your work or personal devices with you on international trips, remove or encrypt any confidential data. Consider using temporary devices, instead, such as an inexpensive laptop and a prepaid cell phone purchased specifically for travel.

Use of encryption may not be lawful in certain countries, and there is no uniform guidance with respect to some countries. It’s best to NOT use encryption when traveling to countries such as China and Russia.  If you do use encryption, be prepared to unlock the encryption upon demand of government officials. Refusal to do so may subject you to forfeiting your computer, unnecessary delays, or even arrest.

Contact the U.S. Dept of State for specific questions.

Install a device finder or manager on your mobile device in case it is lost or stolen. Make sure it has remote wipe capabilities and that you know how to do a remote wipe.

Make copies of your travel documents and any credit cards you’re taking with you. Leave the copies with a trusted friend, in case the items are lost or stolen.

Keep prying eyes out! Use strong passwords, passcodes, or smart-phone touch ID to lock and protect your devices.

Avoid posting social media announcements about your travel plans; such announcements make you an easy target for thieves. Wait until you’re home to post your photos or share details about your trip.

While you’re there:

Physically protect yourself, your devices, and any identification documents (especially your passport).

Don’t use an ATM unless you have no other option; instead, work with a teller inside the bank. If you must use an ATM, only do so during daylight hours and ask a friend to watch your back. Also check the ATM for any skimming devices, and use your hand to cover the number pad as you enter your PIN.

Never use the computers available in public areas, hotel business centers, or cyber cafés since they may be loaded with key loggers and malware. If you use a device belonging to other travelers, colleagues, or friends, do not log in to e-mail or any sensitive accounts.

Be careful when using public wireless networks or Wi-Fi hotspots; they’re not secure, so anyone could potentially see what you’re doing on your computer or mobile device while you’re connected.

Disable Wi-Fi and Bluetooth when not in use. Some stores and other locations search for devices with Wi-Fi or Bluetooth enabled to track your movements when you’re within range.

Keep your devices with you at all times during your travels. Do not assume they will be safe in your hotel room or in a hotel safe.

When you return:

Change any and all passwords you may have used abroad.

Run full antivirus scans on your devices.

Information, Technology & Consulting