Many of our faculty and staff members travel nationally and internationally for research, conferences, teaching and many other reasons. Any time you travel, there is always the possibility you may run into problems. We have compiled a list of tips that will help mitigate any risks. If you are travelling internationally, please check our pages concerning "High Risks Countries" (click here for a list of countries), and "Low Risk Countries".
Before you go
- If you don’t need it, don’t travel with it. Leave your electronic devices and valuables at home if you can
- Ensure your software is up-to-date and that your devices are encrypted
- Clear your browser history and cache including saved usernames/passwords
- Delete any saved or favorite sites that could expose person information or habits
- Remove sensitive data
- Consider a loaner laptop if possible (The Belk Library can assist you)
- Back up any electronic devices you are taking with you (please contact IT Support Services if you need assistance)
- Leave a copy of your passport, itinerary, and important phone numbers with a family member, friend, or coworkers so that they can quickly access the information and get it to you in the event that your passport or other valuables are stolen
- Review the US State Department and CIA World Factbook websites for any travel warnings and tips about your location.
While you’re traveling
- Do NOT plug your phone into charger kiosks. There may be a hostile computer on the other end of that innocent-looking wire.
- Be aware of any software updates when travelling. Entities in foreign countries have been known to push fake updates when a user connects to a local network so they can install malware and spyware
- Example: "I had just checked into my hotel in Asia and plugged my laptop into the local network. Immediately I got a popup that stated my operating system was out of date and I could click on the popup to install the required updates. I installed the updates and continued with my trip. When I returned home I handed in my laptop to the office IT people; I got a call later and they told me the laptop was full of spyware.”
- Be aware of your surroundings. Watch for those looking over your shoulder or potential thieves.
- Do not leave your devices unattended. Even hotel safes are not secure.
- Never store valuables or electronics in your checked luggage
- Use a secure internet connection with VPN and turn it off when not in use (some countries such as Russia and China have banned or intend to ban the use of VPNs)
- Do not download or transfer data or software to your device. Instead, use a cloud service.
- Report any incidents such as theft, loss of a device or if you suspect you have been hacked or compromised, immediately to IT Support Services!
- Respect the local laws and regulations
- Protect sensitive data. Make sure your devices are encrypted (Contact IT Support Services for assistance)
- Don’t have an expectation of privacy
- Beware of “phishing” scams referencing local attractions and businesses
When you return
- Change your AppState password
- If you checked your voicemail while traveling, change your voicemail passcode.
- If you brought your computer, save any documents you created while traveling to an external drive and restore from your pre-departure backup.
- US Customs with “reasonable suspicion” can search and confiscate your electronic devices
- Under current regulations, the US Customs can search and download all your electronic information and confiscate your devices upon entry to the United States.
- Customs agents may ask for your passwords / pin numbers. You do not have to surrender it but they may confiscate your device.
- NOTE: We cannot offer any legal advice, please consult an attorney if US customs intends to search or confiscate your device
Enjoy your travels!