International travel presents unique challenges to securing devices and information. This is particularly true when traveling to destinations that are considered to be high cyber risk countries such as China or Russia.
Here are some precautions to take when traveling to these countries that will improve the security of your devices and data.
Before you travel, you should first consider your company policies and procedures. Your device may have Mobile Device Management which can allow for a remote wipe of data if your device is lost or stolen. It may also specify an application whitelist or limit the device’s use when traveling.
Your company may also have a regularly scheduled backup for data and files to a secure server. If they do not, ensure that you back up all your device information before traveling internationally.
Another important consideration is to update your anti-malware and anti-virus before leaving the country. This guarantees that your device can defend against the most recent exploits.
Finally, make sure your hard drives and data storage devices are encrypted, and be sure to verify the local laws of the country that you are visiting. Some countries, like China, do not allow encrypted devices and your device may be seized.
When traveling internationally it is imperative that you always maintain physical control of your devices. Thieves often target foreigners for their devices and may extract sensitive data or personal information.
Another important reminder is to never connect a device to an insecure or untrusted connection. A simple act like plugging your phone into an unknown USB charger or outlet may install malware or extract data.
Avoid connecting to public Wi-Fi networks and turn off automatic connections for Wi-Fi and Bluetooth.
When using your device in a foreign country establish a secured Virtual Private Network or VPN connection to a server in the United States. A VPN creates an encrypted tunnel to transfer your information and data. Still, you should assume any communications made in high cyber risk countries may be monitored.
After returning home from your international travel, it is critical to not introduce any devices back into your home or work network. Doing this may introduce malware into the network. Instead, immediately format and update your devices along with your anti-virus and anti-malware programs.
It is also good practice to change the passwords of any devices that were brought with you during your travel. If any of your credentials were compromised while traveling, changing your password when you return may prevent escalation of any cyber threats.
Finally, monitor your financial accounts when returning to ensure that no credit card or account information was compromised.