Tips and tricks for cyber safety during your 2017 summer travel

Summer session is only weeks away. Students will be traveling abroad, faculty gearing up for research trips and staff booking flights for a trip away. On their checklists: pack extra socks, arrange for a house sitter and reserve a hotel. It’s unlikely “cybersecurity prep” will make the list.

Without preparing for a safe and secure trip, you could end up losing expensive equipment, being scammed out of thousands of dollars, or putting the University at risk with stolen, sensitive data, as well as putting personal data at risk.

Here’s a step-by-step security checklist you can incorporate into your travel planning. 

Before you go: 

  • If you’re traveling to a destination in the Middle East such as Dubai or Egypt, or you have a connecting flight from there, you will want to review newly implemented device restrictions. When traveling back to the United States, you are now not permitted to carry on an electronic device larger than a smartphone.
  • If you take a personal or work device with you, remove or encrypt any confidential data. (See below for information on the University’s data classification rules.)
  • Install a device finder or manager on your mobile device in case it is lost or stolen. Make sure it has remote wipe capabilities and that you know how to do a remote wipe.
  • Ensure that any device with an operating system is fully patched and has up-to-date with software.
  • Make copies of your travel documents and the credit cards you’re taking. Leave the copies with a trusted friend, in case the items are lost or stolen.

While you’re there:

  • Never use computers available in public areas, hotel business centers, or cyber cafés since they may be loaded with keyloggers and malware. If you use devices belonging to other travelers, colleagues, or friends, do not log in to email or any sensitive accounts.
  • Be careful when using public wireless networks or Wi-Fi hotspots; they’re not secure, so anyone could potentially see what you’re doing on your computer or mobile device while you’re connected.
  • Disable Wi-Fi and Bluetooth when not in use. Some stores and other locations search for devices with Wi-Fi or Bluetooth enabled to track your movements when you’re within range.

When you return:

  • Run full antivirus scans on your devices
  • If you used a credit card while traveling, check your monthly statements for any discrepancies for at least one year after you return.

Data classifications explained

Public – Information which may or must be open to the general public. It is defined as information with no existing local, national or international legal restrictions on access.

  • Example: Course catalog

Sensitive – Information whose access must be guarded due to proprietary, ethical or privacy considerations. This classification applies even though there may not be a civil statute requiring protection.

  • Example: Date of birth, gender, PUID

Restricted – Information protected by statutes, policies or regulations. This level also represents information that isn't legally protected by default, but for which the information owner has exercised their right to restrict access.

  • Example: Protected Health Information (HIPAA); student data such as Social Security number (SSN) and date of birth; grades/GPA/transcripts (FERPA); financial account information (GLBA); government restricted research data (ITAR, EAR); or third party confidential or proprietary information.

For more information on cybersecurity at Purdue visit the SecurePurdue website.

Writer: Kirsten Gibson, technology writer, Information Technology at Purdue (ITaP), 765-494-8190, gibson33@purdue.edu

Last updated: May 2, 2017

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