Cybersecurity and International Travel

Introduction

While I was checking out train routes from London to Hong Kong/Shanghai and Japan the topic of cybersecurity measures I would or might need also crossed my mind. When thinking it over and looking up advice there are few key things that a traveller should keep in mind when it comes to their own cybersecurity when travelling abroad. When large when travelling through areas in the EU the level of risk is low while to travel outside the EU depending whether they are friendly or non-friendly countries the risk can be much higher. Higher risk countries include obvious ones like Russia and China but also depending on your profession can possibly now include the USA. (Journalists being harassed at US airport as they go through customs and passport control seems to be becoming more common) If you already follow cybersecurity best practises the vast majority of the time you don't need to do much else and further measures you might take will depend on where your travelling to and what the purpose of your trip is.

Risk

The level and type of risk will vary depending on why you are travelling. For example, travelling while on holiday a person as long they are not workaholics will not be carrying sensitive data related to their work but their personal security such as protecting themselves from credit/debit fraud is going of greater importance. While someone travelling for work/business meetings/conference will most likely be carrying sensitive and/or important data which should be protected and kept secure at all times.

Some Steps that Be can Taken



    • Strictly limit the data you store and take with you while traveling. If you won’t need it for the trip, don’t take it. Also, applies to devices as well.
    • Never leave devices or sensitive materials unattended or unsecured in your hotel room. It's always best to keep these items with you; even in-room safes have known security flaws.
    • In some countries, hotel business centres and phone networks are monitored and in some locations, rooms may even be searched. As a general guideline, assume that there is no expectation of privacy in offices, hotels, Internet cafes, or other public areas.
    • It may be worth using a cheap burner laptop and/or phone when travelling to certain countries and only have the bare minimal amount of information you need to carry out work or keep in touch friends and family back home. 
    • Make use of a VPN since Many free WiFi networks are unsecured, so anyone who connects to the same network can intercept the data being sent between your smartphone, tablet or laptop and the internet.  If you use a VPN, it's encrypted on your device and they can't.  Even using 'secure' hotel WiFi, you're never quite sure who has access to that network. Also, countries such as China block Twitter, Facebook, Google and other sites you might want to use so using a  VPN, select VPN servers in your home country.  Note that using mobile data through a SIM card also gets around these restrictions, but mobile data costs money so it's cheaper to use WiFi when available, which means you'll need a VPN.  
    • If you have contactless debit/credit cards it is worthwhile investing in RFID blocker to give peace of mind and to prevent yourself becoming a victim of fraud and/or identity theft. Also, useful for everyday use as well not just when travelling. 

    Conclusion

    By and large, when travelling abroad if you already follow cybersecurity best practises you're going to be fine. Though if, travelling on business certain countries will require additional measures. In the end it is about what type of behaviour you are prepared to follow to remain secure and the level of risk you are prepared to accept before you begin taking measures to stay safe and secure. 


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