Summer travel season is well under way and considering the increasingly common reports detailing device seizures and data searches at international borders, you want to be very careful about the things you travel with.
In a recently published SecureList article, Kaspersky Lab expert Dmitry Bestuzhev explains that travelers may be faced with a choice when entering foreign countries: comply with a password request or go home. It really goes without saying that disobeying any given country’s federal border agents is a terrible idea, but it also goes without saying that handing over passwords to accounts with valuable corporate or personal data is also a terrible idea. So, Bestuzhev brainstormed a few ways in which travelers can circumvent this catch 22.
He recommends maintaining a seemingly legitimate dummy email account with a unique password and no sensitive information stored within. This way, you can go ahead and hand over access to an email address but not worry about losing sensitive information. The case may be that border agents demand an entire device as well as the passwords to access it. Similarly, Bestuzhev advises that travelers don’t bring their main computer at all. The better idea, he claims, is to have a second, travel computer. This way, you can encrypt certain parts of the hard-drive, which is, apparently, less suspicious than encrypting an entire hard-drive. Finally, Bestuzhev writes that travelers should do work only on their own virtual private networks, run security software can detect malware and network layer attacks, and make sure there is no sensitive data on any USB devices you may travel with.
In addition to Bestuzhev’s advice, the Electronic Frontier Foundation put together an excellent guide that we adapted into a slideshow detailing the ways to protect your devices at U.S. border crossings.
Beyond border patrols, travelers should also be cognizant of hackers, criminals, foreign intelligence agents or any variety of state commissioned actors targeting their devices, in some cases, before a traveler even gets off the plane.