ITS Online

#229 Secure Devices and Data Before Traveling Abroad

April 24, 2014

Though summer is a great time to travel, international travel introduces new risks to your data and devices. Here are some tips to keep you safe while traveling abroad:


Before you leave…

  • Avoid taking sensitive data unless absolutely necessary because some countries may inspect laptops and data upon entry. (Sensitive data includes personally identifiable information, proprietary information, or data whose disclosure would cause significant harm to Penn or its constituents). 
  • Encrypt data if it is essential to take with you, though some countries may require you to decrypt the files for inspection.
  • Let ITS know you are leaving and we can help you “sanitize” your computer or prepare a loaner to avoid unnecessarily exposing all of your data to inspection.


While you’re away…

  • Whenever possible, select WiFi connections that
    • Encrypt traffic,
    • Are restricted with a password,
    • And are provided by a trusted source.
  • Use HTTPS over HTTP when browsing the web so any information you enter on a website is encrypted.
  • Avoid accessing websites with sensitive data from public computers or public WiFi networks or locations.
  • Keep your mobile devices with you or locked in a safe, and please notify ITS immediately if your device is stolen.


When you return…

  • Work with ITS to transfer any data from a loaner system to your personal devices and scan your system for malware.
  • Consider changing any passwords that you used on networks while abroad.
  • Some software and data may be subject to Export Control Regulations. For more information, please see


For more information on keeping your data and devices safe while traveling, please see this article or email


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