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Traveling with Technology

The following guidelines were adapted from the IT Security Guidelines for Domestic and International Travelers on the UM Safe Computing website. For more information and guidelines, please visit their website. There is also a video on the topic.

Travel exposes travellers’ information and devices to new environments and potentially greater risks. However, with some preparation travellers can reduce those risks.

Before Travel

If you don’t need it, don’t travel with it

  • Leave behind any devices or media that are not absolutely necessary.

  • Do not save sensitive personal information such as credit card numbers, passport information, or Social Security numbers on your device.

  • Clear your web browsing history and similar stored information.

Use two-factor authentication

  • Plan which Duo options you will use while traveling and enroll in them if needed. See Traveling With Two-Factor (Duo) for a one-page reference chart.

  • Turn on two-factor to protect your personal accounts. See Two Factor Auth (2FA)for a list of websites and services and whether or not they offer two-factor protection. Websites that work with an authenticator app can use the Duo Mobile app.

Inventory and back up your data, and check for malware.

  • Inventory the data you will be traveling with in case your device is lost or stolen.

  • Securely backup data stored on your device(s) or media.

  • Run a full scan for malware using anti-virus and anti-spyware tools to ensure that the device is clean of detectable malware prior to travel.

Prepare to use cellular data, download materials, and for limited access.

  • Check with your phone carrier about international roaming and data plans. You may be able to use your phone for tethering (as a hotspot) to connect your computer to the internet instead of using public WiFi.

  • Download online materials you may need in case you cannot access U-M Google, U-M Box, YouTube, Google, Facebook, Twitter, blogs, and other websites that are blocked in some countries. Also download and install a VPN client before you leave; in some countries it may be difficult or impossible to download one. (See Use a Secure Internet Connection for VPN download links and details.)

  • Notify people in advance that you may not be able to read and respond to email. Some governments restrict access to Google Apps. Due to international sanctions, for example, users are unable to access Google Apps from the Crimea region of Ukraine.

  • Get alternate accounts if you are going to a country that is known to block some services. Having accounts in multiple providers (Google, Yahoo, Hotmail, etc.) increases the likelihood that at least something will be accessible.

  • Set up an email forwarding address. You may wish to set up a forwarding address in MCommunity to have email that is sent to your address forwarded automatically to one or more email addresses of your choice (Google, Yahoo, Hotmail, etc.). For detailed instructions, refer to Forwarding or Redirecting Your U-M Email Using the MCommunity Directory.

Do not depend on having online access to U-M Google and cloud-based resources.

  • Some cloud-based services, including U-M Google, are blocked by countries, organizations, or networks. In some places, network access is inconsistent and unreliable. If your destination country does not have consistent internet or access to cloud-based services, prepare in advance by printing backup copies of vital documents or other information that you need to have while you are traveling.

  • For more information, refer to International Access to U-M Google and Cloud-Based Resources.

Change your UMICH (Level-1) password to one that will be used only during your trip.

Also change any other passwords you expect to use while traveling.

While Traveling

Use a secure internet connection—cellular network or secure WiFi with VPN—and turn it off when not in use.

  • Use your cellular carrier's network as your first choice for an Internet connection, if possible.

  • Avoid using public and free WiFi services. When using a WiFi connection, even in hotel rooms, turn on U-M’s Virtual Private Network (VPN) or the specific VPN for your campus. (Some nations, such as Russia and China, have restricted access to, banned, or intend to restrict access to or ban the use of VPNs.)

  • Use eduroam WiFi access when visiting other institutions. Eduroam is available to students, faculty and staff when visiting other universities and colleges and throughout the world. Before traveling, use the WiFi setup tool to configure eduroam. Full access to U-M resources is available when using eduroam.

  • Assume that any computer network you use is insecure, including those of friends you are staying with, as well as those in business centers, at cyber cafés, or in libraries.

  • Never enter or access sensitive data when using a shared or public computer.

  • Use the web browser's private browsing or incognito feature when using a shared or public computer to prevent it from saving a record of what you visit and download.

  • Disable Bluetooth, WiFi, and GPS when not in use to limit potential unauthorized access to your device or data.

Keep your device with you and physically secured.

  • Keep your devices close rather than leaving them behind in hotel rooms. Do not leave your devices unattended, although hotel safes are acceptable, including hotel room safes.

  • Be discreet. For example, if possible, do not use an obvious laptop storage bag, as these may make you a more obvious target.

Respect the laws and regulations of other countries.

  • Some nations have banned or intend to ban the use of VPNs. Russia and China are two such nations. Using VPN services could put you at risk of being accused of cyber espionage or other crimes. At present, who is affected by the bans, when they take effect, and how they might be implemented are unclear.

  • Do not attempt to illegally bypass VPN blocks from locations in China and elsewhere. That could put you at risk of being accused of cyber espionage or other crimes.

Upon Return

Change your UMICH (Level-1) password—and any others you used—immediately upon your return.

Scan and clean your device.

  • Run a full in-depth scan for malware, using anti-virus and anti-spyware tools. If any malware infections are detected, follow the remediation steps recommended by the anti-virus tool.