March 2017: Security Tips for Traveling at Home and Abroad

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Campus Security Awareness Campaign 2017
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Academic community members are often on the go — whether traveling abroad or on the move at home. Don’t let security concerns derail their upcoming travel plans! Teach your end users essential online (and offline) safety habits now so they can relax during that road trip, beach stay, castle tour, or local hike. Use the customizable content below to educate students, faculty, and staff about online security before, during, and after their travels.

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Newsletter or Website Content

We all like to travel with our mobile devices (smartphones, laptops, or tablets) — whether it’s to the coffee shop around the corner or to a café in Paris. These devices make it easy for us to stay connected while on the go, but they can also store a lot of information — including contacts, photos, videos, location, and other personal and financial data — about ourselves and our friends and family. Following are some ways to protect yourself and others.

Before you go:

  • If possible, do not take your work or personal devices with you on international trips. If you do, remove or encrypt any confidential data.
  • For international travel, consider using temporary devices, such as an inexpensive laptop and a prepaid cell phone purchased specifically for travel. (For business travel, your employer may have specific policies about device use and traveling abroad.)
  • 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 and software is fully patched and up-to-date with security software.
  • Makes copies of your travel documents and any credit cards you’re taking with you. Leave the copies with a trusted friend, in case the items are lost or stolen.
  • Keep prying eyes out! Use strong passwords, passcodes, or smart-phone touch ID to lock and protect your devices.
  • Avoid posting social media announcements about your travel plans; such announcements make you an easy target for thieves. Wait until you’re home to post your photos or share details about your trip.

While you’re there:

  • Physically protect yourself, your devices, and any identification documents (especially your passport).
  • Don’t use an ATM unless you have no other option; instead, work with a teller inside the bank. If you must use an ATM, only do so during daylight hours and ask a friend to watch your back. Also check the ATM for any skimming devices, and use your hand to cover the number pad as you enter your PIN.
  • It’s hard to resist sharing photos or telling friends and family about your adventures, but it’s best to wait to post about your trip on social media until you return home.
  • Never use the computers available in public areas, hotel business centers, or cyber cafés since they may be loaded with keyloggers and malware. If you use a device belonging to other travelers, colleagues, or friends, do not log in to e-mail 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.
  • Keep your devices with you at all times during your travels. Do not assume they will be safe in your hotel room or in a hotel safe.

When you return:

  • Change any and all passwords you may have used abroad.
  • 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.
  • If you downloaded any apps specifically for your trip and no longer need them, be sure to delete those apps and the associated data.
  • Post all of your photos on social media and enjoy reliving the experience!
Online Security Tips for Smarter Travel image

Source: STOP. THINK. CONNECT. infographic on "Security Tips for Smarter Travel" graphic

Figure 1. Use this image to support your message.


Social Posts

Note: These are Twitter-ready, meeting the 140-character length restriction.

  • Secure your devices. Use strong passwords, PINs, autolock, or touch ID on phones, tablets, & laptops. #SafeTravels #CyberAware #PrivacyAware
  • Now you see me, now you don’t. Disable #WiFi & Bluetooth when not in use to avoid being tracked. #SafeTravels #CyberAware #PrivacyAware
  • Get savvy about #WiFi hotspots, which aren’t secure. Limit sensitive transactions or use #VPN. #SafeTravels #CyberAware #PrivacyAware
  • Keep mobile devices, software, & apps updated to defend against #malware. #SafeTravels #CyberAware #PrivacyAware
  • Delete those vacation apps when you get home. #SafeTravels #CyberAware #PrivacyAware
  • Resist sharing photos or travel adventures on social media until you return home. #SafeTravels #CyberAware #PrivacyAware

E-Mail Signature

Ask staff members to add a tip to their e-mail signature block and a link to your institution’s information security page.


Jane Doe
Chief Information Security Office
XYZ College

Stay safe while traveling at home or abroad. Learn more. [Link “Learn more” to your institution’s information security awareness page or link to these STOP. THINK. CONNECT. tips for smarter travel.]

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Quick tips for online security while traveling (0:30 sec)

Wi-Fi hotspot security tips (3:11 min)

General safely tips for travel (2:57 min)


Share these resources with end users or use them to inform your awareness strategy.

Brought to you by the Awareness and Training Working Group of the EDUCAUSE Higher Education Information Security Council (HEISC).

© 2017 EDUCAUSE. This EDUCAUSE Review blog is licensed under Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 4.0.