IT Security Guidelines While Traveling Internationally

Before You Go:

  • Backup all data, and take only the minimum data necessary, or a clean loaner machine.
  • Work with your IT Consultant to remove or restrict any elevated or sensitive permissions on devices.
  • Consider whether or not it’s feasible to use disposable (e.g., “burner”) accounts for email, file sharing and any other required services.
  • Don’t pack devices in checked luggage, though you may have no choice with laptops due to terrorist threat levels.
  • Enable security for all mobile devices: encryption*, PIN or strong password protection, auto-lock after inactivity, auto-wipe after failed login attempts, device location services, and remote wipe.

While you’re there:

  • Use a Virtual Private Network (VPN).
  • Do not access systems or accounts that are not absolutely necessary. 
  • Avoid connecting USB and/or similar 3rd party devices to your workstation.
  • Turn OFF Wifi, Bluetooth, IR when not in use. Disable ‘connect automatically’ to wireless network feature.
  • Enable host based firewall and antivirus.
  • Turn off AND tape over the camera lens and microphone when not using.
  • If removable battery, remove it when not in use.
  • Don’t leave devices unattended.

When you return:

  • Change passwords.
  • Monitor accounts for unusual activity.
  • Scan systems and data before use.

*Encryption Issues

Commercial grade encryption is permissible for travel outside the U.S., and for use in most countries. The Wassenaar Arrangement provides some guidance (see

Foreign regulations are unclear about encryption and change constantly. In general, it is permissible, BUT there are some notable exceptions:

No: Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Sudan, and Syria

Not recommended, may be illegal: China and Russia. Don’t use encryption in Russia, nor China. Use clean devices, with only the info you need.

IN ALL CASES: While outside the U.S., if asked for the password by government agents, give it up without argument



Article ID: 67168
Tue 11/13/18 3:33 PM
Mon 4/6/20 1:25 PM