Most academics travel extensively. The information below will help improve personal security and protect intellectual security and research while traveling abroad.
International travel tips
The following best practices checklist is designed to help the K-State community. Please contact our office if you have questions about any of these items. Download this list as a PDF.
Use a loaner device(s) – phone and laptop – if college/dept offer them
Load only essential data that will be needed while traveling
Strictly follow K-State policies regarding the device(s)
Keep software updated – updated software is the best defense against malware
Ensure antivirus/malware software is up-to-date
Use a strong password – this protects info, especially if/when device is lost or stolen
At least 8 characters
Combines letters, numbers, and symbols
Not found in a dictionary and isn’t a name
Download apps only from trusted sources, and make sure you understand what info it accesses (location, contacts, etc)
Review K-State Export Control policy. This site is for your benefit and will help maintain your compliance with U.S. law.
Don’t travel with classified or sensitive information, even if encrypted
Leave any electronic equipment at home that you won’t need during your travel
Familiarize yourself with the country(ies) to which you’re traveling. First off, contact your FSO about any concerns. Secondly, study the State Department website for warnings, advisories, and nation-specific information
Enroll in U.S. State Dept Smart Traveler Enrollment Program to get notices and info
Above all, keep in mind that the laws and practices of foreign nations regarding online privacy and security will likely differ from the U.S.
Encrypt and/or password protect everything you can
Switch off Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connections when not in use – automatic log-ins create vulnerabilities; some systems look for these connections to track your movements when within range, and in many nations, the Wi-Fi connections are controlled by the security service
Avoid using shared computers – they’re vulnerable to keylogging.
Enable two-step authentication when offered
Change passwords to any account you accessed while on an unfamiliar network
When using public connection, avoid using sites that require personal info, like log-ins
Use the KSU VPN protocol when you log on to any network, especially a public or non-secure one
Be aware of your surroundings and whether others are looking at your device
Strongly consider a privacy screen on your computer
Don’t use the same password or PIN that you use in the U.S.
Clear Internet browser after use
Don’t allow foreign electronic storage devices to be connected to your phone/laptop
Do not leave any electronic device unattended. Ever. This includes hotel rooms and safes.
Be vigilant everywhere
Laptop theft is common in airports – keep closely held and secure
Do not place electronic devices in checked baggage
Immediately report loss or theft of any electronic devices to the local US Embassy or Consulate and then K-State IT. Don’t wait until your return to report it.
Beware of new acquaintances who probe for information, especially if they propose something that seems impulsive or spur-of-the-moment. You could end up in a potentially compromising situation.
Be aware that your conversations may not be private or secure
No other country has a Fourth Amendment, and most other countries don’t have restrictions against technical and personal surveillance
In most countries, you have no expectation of privacy; ssume any information you send/receive is being intercepted
- Work with IT to safely remove all data from your loaner devices, and return them promptly
- Change your passwords on any device or application/program you accessed while traveling
- Sanitize your remaining devices, by requesting IT analyze them for any potential harm
- Delete all previously downloaded apps that are no longer useful; this is especially valuable with apps/programs you used to plan the trip
If you have any suspicions about personal contacts abroad or upon your return, please contact the FSO. Many, if not most, are innocent, but FSO can help start the process to confirm.
FBI business travel
Download a travel brochure (PDF) from the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The information is designed to protect the personal security of business travelers.
Foreign travel mobile devices
Download a handout (PDF) developed by the National Cyber Security Alliance to warn of the greatest vulnerabilities while traveling: movie phones, tablets, and laptops. Use this one-page reference as part of your travel preparation.