Information Security Central - March 2017

​While it isn't quite April yet, it's never too early to start planning for summer or upcoming travel in the meantime. With so much of our lives wrapped up in our devices and online presences, it's more important than ever to make sure that you have your devices secure when you're on the go. These recommendations pertain largely to your personal devices; If you want more in-depth security guidelines for traveling with CMU devices or your own personal devices, please check out our international travel standard document.

Before you travel

Before you hit the road or get on that plane, there are a number of steps that you should take from home:

  • Always check with your airline about any restrictions. There have been a number of changes lately, sometimes only temporarily, on international travel device restrictions. Always check with your airline to make sure you're aware of any current restrictions.
  • Back up your device information. This is good advice in general, but you want to make sure that you have a backup of your information just in case misfortune strikes.
  • Enable full-disk encryption. This ensures that, even if someone steals your device, they can't access the information on it. This means turning on BitLocker for Windows or FileVault for Mac OS. 
    • You can and should do this on your mobile device as well.
    • Important: Don't lose your encryption password! If you do, you won't be able to regain access to your data.
  • Password-protect your devices. This includes computers, mobile devices, and anything else on which you can put a password.
  • Make sure you have an international phone plan. If you go through CONNECT, give them a call to make sure you have the necessary options on your plan. If you're travelling for CMU business, inquire about renting a loaner device.

While you're traveling

While you're traveling, there are some additional steps that you can take to increase your security:

  • Report any lost/stolen devices immediately. The sooner you report the loss, the more quickly you can lock down any affected accounts and mitigate potential identity loss.
  • Use VPN. When accessing the internet away from home, especially over public Wi-Fi, shady characters could be snooping your traffic. Connecting to CMU (or another private provider) over VPN ensures that your traffic is encrypted. Just remember that some countries may have restrictions on using VPN, so make sure that you understand local laws.
  • Always lock up your devices. Today's portability of devices is a great convenience, but it's also a liability, as someone can walk off with most of your life tucked under one arm. Make sure you always know where your devices are, and lock them up if you are leaving them unattended.