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Cyber-Smart Traveling

May 2018

For many of us, having a cell phone or other electronic device is an integral part of daily life, whether at home or on the road. And traveling today is so much easier with technology. You can stay productive, entertained, and in touch.

Unfortunately, traveling with devices can mean increased cyber risks for keeping your personal and University information private, as well as increased potential for device theft.

Stay cyber safe while traveling:
A good rule of thumb when traveling is to assume your devices will be lost, stolen, compromised, or even confiscated at an international border at some point during your trip, and plan accordingly. It is also important to remember that anything you do over unsecured Wi-Fi may be able to be seen by others, including your passwords and the contents of your messages. With this in mind:

  • Make sure you are able to connect to the Internet securely while you’re away.
  • Encrypt your devices, or at least any sensitive information on your devices.
  • Only bring what you’re willing to lose – both stored information and the devices themselves. Even if they're encrypted.
  • If you’re traveling for UC business, research, or as an international student or scholar, work with your IT department to make sure you’re taking a clean machine or an appropriate loaner device, and that you have the tools you need to connect to the Internet securely.
  • Immediately report lost or stolen devices used for work -- follow your location’s reporting requirements.

Special notes for international travelers:

  • There are special rules for bringing electronic equipment, research, intellectual property, and encryption technology abroad. Consult with experts at your campus/location well in advance of your trip if you are planning to take University equipment, data or technology outside of the United States. Campus export control contacts
  • Encryption: Although encryption is recommended to protect sensitive information in case your device is lost, stolen, inspected or confiscated, some countries restrict the use/importation of encryption software. The USA may also restrict its export. See UC's "International Travel" web page for information, including lists of countries with travel restrictions, and links for additional help.
    • If you are not able to use encryption software at your destination, contact your IT department for guidance.

Additional information…

See the full travel cybersecurity awareness toolkit



This article includes content provided by UC Santa Cruz, and Educause ( "How to Protect Your Data and Devices While Traveling with Tech" and "Security Tips for Traveling at Home and Abroad" ).

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