How To Keep Your Digital Data Safe When Traveling
As a top California limousine service, CLI Worldwide places our passengers’ wellbeing, safety and comfort at the top of our priority list. Many of our clients travel for business and bring laptops, smartphones and other tech tools with them. In countries such as China, which is a popular business travel destination, visiting entrepreneurs have reported incidents of laptops and other devices being tampered with in customs and when left alone in hotel rooms. There is also evidence that email, Internet use and phone conversations are subject to surveillance.
A report to Congress from the U.S. Office of the National Counterintelligence Executive said that spying is part of a national Chinese policy to speed up economic development, even if it means resorting to cyber theft from foreign companies (the Chinese government has denied any form of cyber espionage, but travelers should still take precautions.
While we focus on providing safe, stylish and comfortable transportation services for business travel, group travel and leisure travel, we thought the following tips would help our travelers when they visit China or other heavily censored and monitored countries.
1. Prep your laptop/Macbook/tablet.
Install updates for your computer’s operating system & other software to cover any security holes, and make sure your security software is up-to-date. Leave Bluetooth-connected keyboards & headsets at home and turn off your devices’ Bluetooth function, which can allow eavesdropping. Lock your device with a PIN or password & use whole disk encryption to protect stored data.
You can also set up a firewall that will inspect traffic leaving your laptops and programs that are trying to connect to the Internet.
2. Strip unneeded data from your devices before traveling.
If possible, consider using travel-only devices that contain a minimal amount of data and can be wiped back home. If these devices do get hacked or stolen, there won’t be as much valuable information to lose.
You can also bring a blank laptop with a PIN-protected flash drive to access the data you need, and your IT department can wipe the machine after use.
3. Use a disposable prepaid cellphone.
Business travelers should turn off their smartphones to avoid downloading spyware and taking it back home. Bring pre-paid devices with you from home.. Phones or computers made for the Chinese market could have monitoring software built into them, so avoid purchasing your pre-paid electronics in the country you’re visiting.
Unless your calls are encrypted, the country’s government can monitor them, even if you’re on a U.S. cellphone provider’s service. You can use Skype to encrypt your calls. You should also firmly, but respectfully, decline to let customs officers take your devices without you, and make sure to carry them with you when leaving the hotel room.
4. Use a VPN while on the Internet.
A VPN, or virtual private network, creates an encrypted tunnel for your Internet traffic, so it can’t be read or tampered with by hackers. It can also make it appear that you are accessing the Internet from the U.S., which can help you access U.S. sites that restrict access to visitors from foreign countries. If you don’t use a VPN, you run the risk of not only having your internet use monitored, but may also encounter difficulty accessing websites for email and social media.
5. Wipe or toss devices when you return home.
Security experts recommend wiping and reformat laptops and tablets before using them at home or work after returning from China. Remove SIM cards from pre-paid cellphones, break them in half, & take the phones to a recycling center.
CLI Worldwide offers travelers a wide variety of clean, stylish vehicles that are suited for group travel, business travel and personal travel. We have a fleet of sedans, SUVs, vans, minibuses and motorcoaches that are all piloted by expert, professional chauffeurs who understand that the clients come first.
We provide ground transportation in LA, Orange County, San Francisco, San Diego, Las Vegas and over 650 other cities around the world. We take care of clients from door to door, catering to every conceivable need to make the time spent in our vehicles relaxing or productive, whichever our clients choose.
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