Information Security Travel Recommendations

Guidelines for Traveling Safely

Best Practices

  • Before you travel:

    • Ensure any devices (laptops, tablets, phones, etc.) you are traveling with are both backed up and current on security updates/patches.

    • If avoidable, do not travel with devices that contain sensitive or confidential information. If you do travel with your primary device, consider signing out of any websites or applications that contain your personal information (e.g., social media, online banking, etc.). If you prefer, you may request to travel with a “loaner” device by contacting Computing.

    • Check for laws or travels restrictions on electronic devices for your planned destination.  (See links below)

  • During your trip:

    • Whenever possible, limit your connectivity to networks provided by well-known or reputable organizations (e.g. “eduroam”, College/University networks, trustworthy stores/restaurants, etc.).

    • As soon as you connect your device to a public network, start your VPN client and connect to IAS. The VPN secures and encrypts your data communications, and also provides you with the Institute’s perimeter network security protections.

    • Employ a heightened awareness for unsolicited content, including email messages (e.g. phishing attempts) and attachments, and never provide your IAS username or password to a website form. If you have any questions about the legitimacy of a message, contact your IT Helpdesk before clicking.

    • Limit your interactions with IAS systems as much as possible, and for those necessary interactions, ensure a VPN connection is in place.

    • Do not leave your laptop or device unattended in a public place or vehicle.

If you suspect a device has been lost or your data has been compromised, please contact Computing as soon as possible.

Further Details and Discussion

Traveling abroad with electronic devices can be enjoyable, or a nightmare.  It all depends on how prepared you are for your destination.  Here are some resources on how to prepare and what to think about before you leave for your destination.

  • Protecting your data:

    • Make sure you have a complete backup of your data at home or in the cloud.

    • Know if you have Top Secret, Secret, Confidential or otherwise restricted data on your device.

    • Consider leaving all potentially sensitive data at home, or accessible via VPN or cloud service, and not stored on your device.

  • Protecting yourself:

    • Understand the law regarding exporting controlled software. Encryption and Export Administration Regulations (EAR)

    • Travel to Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Sudan, Syria or other countries may have special US export rules.

    • Some countries may have import rules regarding software.

    • Understand illegal content rules for your destination and what may be viewed as propaganda.

    • Know your rights for your destination.  They may be different from the US.

    • Know where the nearest embassy or consulate is to your destination.

    • Make sure your friends and colleagues know where you are and check in regularly.

    • Know that your communications may be intercepted and used against you.

  • Personal Device safety:

    • Don't leave your device unattended.  Cars are not a safe place to leave your devices.

    • Plan for the potential loss of your device.

    • Use a loaner computer with a fresh operating system installed and access your data remotely.

    • Use the IAS VPN (where allowed) for secure remote access.

Country Laws and Current Events

Understand the laws regarding IT security in the places you travel

  1. CIA World Factbook
  2. US Travel Destination information
  3. US Bureau of Diplomatic Security
  4. US Embassy and Consulates
  5. Recently Published Regulations

Links to other Travel Information Pages

Other pages with good information on international travel

  1. Princeton University
  2. Harvard University
  3. Internet2
  4. FBI.gov