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Information Security on the Go

5 min

In 2017, Ireland welcomed 10.6 million overseas visitors. Whether for business or personal use, our technology devices seem indispensable during our travels. Unfortunately, travelling with devices also means that you must take care to protect those devices - and the data contained on them - while you are away from home. That preparation begins before you leave, and you may need to restore settings when you return. 

Many people love the adventure that travelling provides: meeting new people, seeing new places, and having new experiences are part of the allure. Technology makes it easier than ever to satisfy our wanderlust. We can use our connected devices to discover the exotic locales we wish to visit, book tickets on planes and trains, practice driving virtually and seamlessly navigate once we get to our final destination. For all this ease that technology brings, we should prepare our technology for travel as carefully as we plan our travel itineraries. 

Travel tips 

Back-up your data! 

Backing up your data ensures that you won't lose information if your device is lost or stolen. Consider encrypting your data as well, but check with your IT support staff first about how best to implement encryption. 

Strong, complex passwords 

Protect your devices with a strong password or lengthy complex passcode. Sometimes devices get lost or stolen, even when we are being careful. By protecting your device with a passcode or lengthy complex password, you make it harder for your device to be used and data to be accessed by others. 

Keep devices and apps up to date 

Make sure your devices and applications are up to date. Keeping your applications and devices up to date and patched helps to protect your device and data from security vulnerabilities and threats. 

Just say no! 

Just say no to unsecured public Wi-fi. Having a wireless connection is almost a necessity for the modern traveller. However, using an unsecured public Wi-fi hotspot can allow others to view the contents of your electronic activity. Never access your sensitive financial accounts from an unsecured network. If you must access sensitive data from an unsecured network, be sure that you use a VPN service.  

Consider using multi-factor authentication 

Many of us rely on multi-factor authentication (MFA) to secure both personal and work-related accounts. Be sure that you know how (or if) that will work in the countries that you are visiting. For instance, if your MFA relies on SMS, be sure that you will be able to receive that message in the destination that you are visiting. If the option is available to you, consider using a physical token option to ensure you'll be able to login to your accounts. 

Leave them at home 

Consider leaving your daily devices at home. If you are travelling to a location where you are concerned about your individual privacy rights, consider leaving your primary mobile device at home and purchasing a replacement device to take with you instead. Put only the apps, services, and data that you need for that trip on the device.  

Social media posts 

Be smart about posting on social media. It is always fun to post hoiday pictures in the moment, but online postings on social networks (e.g., Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, etc.) can let other people know that you are not at home and that your home may be empty. Posting holiday pictures on social media once you are safely home helps protect your physical belongings. 

Hotel safes 

Use hotel safes to protect your technology. Here's another place where there is an overlap between online safety and physical safety. Just like you would put your passport, jewellery, and money in a hotel safe, consider using that safe to hold your electronic devices when you are not carrying them with you. Not only are the devices themselves expensive to replace, but your personal data contained in the device can also be irreplaceable (especially if you skipped the first tip on this list). 

Remember your adapters! 

Make sure you have the correct power adapters to fit the country's outlets. Outlets can vary from country to country, so do your research before packing those travel bags. If you're attending a conference, you may be able to borrow a charging cable temporarily. Your technology gadgets are not very helpful when they run out of charge or cannot be powered on. Charge and take a portable battery pack. 

Mind your voltage! 

Like plug types, different parts of the world use different voltages. Make sure that your technology devices can run on the voltage used at your destination. Getting shocked with 220V is not the same as 110V. 

As surely as you can reduce wrinkles in your clothing with careful packing, so too can you avoid the most common technology travel woes by preparing before you leave home.


© 2018 Ben Woelk and Joanna Grama. The text of this work is licensed under a Creative Commons BY-NC-ND 4.0 International License.

Looking for more IT security tips?

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