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Security Tips for Travelers


Before you go...


  • If possible, do not take your work or personal devices with you. Use a temporary device, such as an inexpensive laptop and/or a prepaid "throw away" cell phone purchased specifically for travel.
  • If you must take your electronic devices with you, only include information that you will need for your travel.
  • Be sure that any device with an operating system and software is fully patched and up-to-date with security software. Check with local support technicians or your department to ensure you have the latest patches.
  • Be sure to password or passcode protect (passcode refers to mobile phones) the device. More information here.
  • Do not use the same passwords/passcodes that you use on your work and personal devices. The password should be long and complex.
  • Create a "throw away" email account, for example, Yahoo or Gmail, for use only on the trip. Delete the account when you return.
  • You might want to read this New York Times article "Traveling Light in a Time of Digital Thievery" for more information.

While you're there...


  • Assume that anything you do on the device, particularly over the Internet, will be intercepted. In some cases, encrypted data may be decrypted.
  • Turn off the devices when not in use. Do allow them to be in "sleep" or "hibernation" mode when they are not in active use.
  • Minimize the data contained on the device. This is particularly true of logins and passwords, your personal information, and any sensitive data. See UVa’s policy regarding this.
  • Never use shared computers in public areas, hotel business centers, or cyber cafes, and never use devices belonging to other travelers, colleagues, or friends.
  • Keep the devices with you at all times during your travel. Do not assume they will be safe in your hotel room or in a hotel safe.

When you return...


  • Upon returning from your travels, immediately discontinue use of the devices. Reformat the hard drive of any device you used, and reinstall the operating system and other related software, or dispose of the device properly.
  • Delete the "throwaway" email account, if you created one for the trip.
  • Change any and all passwords you may have used abroad.