Recommendations for Travelers to High Risk Countries

Best practices for devices, data, and network security when traveling to high risk locations outside the United States

Introduction

Travel to High Risk Countries, including China, Russia, and Israel, requires special consideration and action in addition to ordinary travel preparations. It is recommended to take the minimum you need in order to successfully work while away. The following guidelines apply to all devices including but not limited to computers, tablets, and mobile phones.

Preparing to Travel

  • Computer/Tablet Loan: When traveling to IGSD project sites, the Academic Technology Center (ATC) can loan laptops and tablets for academic use.
  • Data: Only load data needed for your trip.
  • Mobile Phones: We suggest you purchase a temporary phone to ensure that no personal information travels with you and your personal phone remains secure at home.
  • Personal Devices:
    1. Perform operating system, endpoint protection, and other critical updates.
    2. Perform full back up.
    3. Remove files containing confidential or high risk data.

While Traveling

  • Applications: Do not use applications with personal information while traveling, such as credit card connected apps, and do not use unknown third party applications.
  • Connect: Assume that any device connected to a network will be monitored. Do not plug your device into charger kiosks; there may be a hostile computer on the other end gathering data. Turn off your device's Bluetooth access, location services, and do not share your connections.
  • Awareness: Do not leave your devices unattended; even hotel safes are not secure. Be aware of your surroundings. Watch for those looking over your shoulder or potential thieves.
  • Passwords: Use strong passwords such as a pass phrase that includes mixed case letters and numerals.
  • China: Specific Travel Notes

    • While WPI Virtual Private Network (VPN) connection is usually recommended, some areas of China prohibit non-government provided VPN tools.
    • All network traffic is monitored; carefully consider what data to store on any device as it will be exposed to the Chinese government.
    • Skype connections may be monitored by the government.
    • Access to services such as Gmail, other Google apps, Wikipedia, and Yahoo Web Mail are often blocked altogether or filtered.
    • Hotel staff and government officials can access hotel room safes, so don't expect that a computer or mobile device left in a hotel safe will be secure.

    Upon Return

    • Change all passwords used while traveling.
    • If you checked your voicemail while traveling, change your voicemail passcode.
    • If you brought a computer, save any documents you created while traveling to an external drive. Loaned devices will be reimaged and the data wiped by ITS. Personal devices can be restored by you from your pre-departure backup.


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