Tips: Cybersecurity for the International Traveler

For those traveling internationally for work, research, or vacation, protecting personal and Villanova data and devices is critical. Individuals face a variety of threats when traveling, and best practices start long before boarding the plane. Faculty, staff, students, and other travelers, please use this checklist to prepare yourselves — and your technology — for the unique threats that can accompany global travel.  

Before You Leave 

Take proactive steps to secure your devices and personally identifiable information (such as your name, address, date of birth, and Social Security Number) before you travel. Leave at home any electronic equipment you don't need during your travel. And, if you take it, protect it. Be sure to:

  • Remove sensitive data.
  • Create complex passwords, PINS, codes, and screen locks for your device. 
  • Confirm antivirus software is up-to-date.
  • Be aware of national data protection laws in your home and destination countries.
  • Purchase and pack privacy screen filters, portable chargers, and country specific plug adapters. 
  • Notify the UNIT's Office of Information Security to prevent any account reset's due to suspicious activity. 
  • Notify your bank and credit card companies of your travel itinerary. 
  • Consult with the UNIT Help Desk about special concerns regarding your technology or your destinations. 
  • Check your cell phone coverage and international data plan options. 
  • Enable Villanova’s VPN access.  Reference VPN Getting Started for more information. Be aware some countries block VPN. Talk to the UNIT Help Desk support if an alternative is needed. 
  • Back up all data prior to travel and take only essential data with you. 
  • Ensure multi-factor authentication (MFA) is enabled on your accounts and that Duo is installed on your cellphone. Review our Using Duo Internationally for more information. 

While Travelling 

Be vigilant about your surroundings and where and how you use your devices. Make sure to:

  • Keep your devices secure in public places such as airports, hotels, and restaurants.
  • Protect mobile devices by keeping them secure, locked, and hidden from sight when not in use. 
  • Protect RFID-enabled devices and bank cards with RFID shielded containers. 
  • Protect your data by using privacy screen filters and avoiding public discussions of sensitive data. 
  • Be wary of charging stations; use wall outlets with your own chargers or external batteries instead. 
  • Disable broadcast services like Wi-Fi access points, Bluetooth devices, and GPS when not in use. 
  • Don’t connect to unknown resources like Wi-Fi access points and Bluetooth devices. 
  • Assume locally provided technology, such as wireless networks, may have risky security settings that make them vulnerable to attacks. 
  • Use VPN access or a viable alternative whenever possible. 
  • Don’t enter sensitive information while connected to wireless hotspots or unsecured networks. 
  • Use multi-factor authentication (MFA) whenever possible. 
  • Don’t install software updates or patches while away from trusted, secured networks. 
  • Choose private browsing when accessing websites. 
  • Clear your internet browser of history, caches, cookies, and temporary files after each use. 

Be cautious while using public Wi-Fi

Some threats, like device theft, are obvious. Others, such as data theft – obtaining your passwords to compromise personally identifiable information or access your accounts – may go unnoticed and leave no trace behind. You may be especially vulnerable in locations with public Wi-Fi, including internet cafes, coffee shops, bookstores, travel agencies, clinics, libraries, airports, and hotels. Here are some helpful tips:

  • Do not use the same passwords or PIN numbers abroad that you use in the United States.
  • Do not use the public Wi-Fi to make online purchases or access bank accounts.
  • When logging into any public network, shut off your phone's auto-join function.
  • While using a public Wi-Fi network, periodically adjust your phone settings to disconnect from the network, then log back in again.
  • Try purposely logging onto the public Wi-Fi using the wrong password. If you can get on anyway, that's a sign that the network is not secure.

Remember, also, to avoid using public equipment such as phones, computers, and fax machines for sensitive communications.

Upon Your Return 

  • Review banking and credit card statements for unauthorized transactions. 
  • Scan devices for any unusual activity with the help of the UNIT Help Desk
  • Provide feedback to Technology Support Services on what did and did not work well. 
  • Re-establish normal systems and safeguards with the help of the UNIT Help Desk
  • Resume your weekly or monthly data check and back up routines as normal. 

Questions or concerns? Please contact the UNIT Help Desk or (USA area code +1) 610-519-7777.

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Article ID: 140801
Thu 7/28/22 3:04 PM
Tue 3/28/23 1:37 PM