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While you’re planning what clothes to pack and checking your airline and hotel reservations, don’t forget to think about the security of any digital information or mobile devices with which you will travel.

Identify which mobile devices are necessary

Some people like to take their laptops, tablets, and smartphones with them on a trip, but doing so means putting each of them at risk of theft, loss, or cyber attack. Do you really need all your devices? Is taking them on the trip worth the risk of something happening to them?

If you’re traveling internationally, consider buying a prepaid disposable phone to replace your regular phone. Enter only the contacts you will need while abroad.

You might also opt for a prepaid debit card so you don’t risk losing your credit cards while you are abroad.

Secure the devices you take with you

If you decide to take a mobile device with you, take the following steps to ensure that it and your information are as safe as possible:

  • Install the latest updates and patches.
  • If you have not installed anti-virus software, install it. And run a virus scan of your computer, phone, or tablet.
  • Enable personal firewall protection on your laptop and, if possible, on your phone or tablet.
  • Create a backup disk containing all of your device’s data and leave this disk at home.
  • Completely erase unnecessary files containing Personally Identifiable Information (PII) or other sensitive, confidential and/or regulated information.
  • Encrypt your device’s hard drive or storage.
  • Use a good password to lock your computer or device.
  • Subscribe to a service that allows tracking, locking, and remote deletion of messages stored on your mobile data device in the event it is lost or stolen.
  • Set each of your mobile devices to lock automatically after 15 minutes of inactivity, requiring your password to unlock the device.

Be aware of restrictions

Does your mobile device or computer have any confidential University information on it? Is it configured to access remote storage that contains confidential information? If so, remove student records, human subject data, personal health information and other confidential information—and automatic connections to servers containing that information—before you leave.

If you are taking University data with you on a device or in a document, be aware of any export restrictions on that data. Some University research data are subject to Export Administration Regulations (EAR) or International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR). If your data is covered by these regulations, make sure you have removed that information from your computer and devices before you leave.

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