Travel with Technology

Note: This information is the same as in the Rice KnowledgeBase.

Traveling internationally may greatly increases the risk of your information and device data being compromised, whether through theft or intrusion. In order to protect you, our community, and Rice resources from the risks associated with traveling internationally, the Information Security Office (ISO) recommends that the following specific precautions be taken.

As a member of the Rice community, you are responsible for keeping your risk low and the information and devices you use protected, as laid out by Rice University Policy No. 832. The same guidelines apply to protecting your personal data and resources. You can set your mind at ease about your devices and your data, both personal and university-owned, by following these steps.

Travel Guidance

Before the Trip

If you need assistance preparing for your technology for your trip, the Office of Information Technology (OIT) can help. The sooner you contact us before your trip, the better! Reach out via the OIT Help Desk.

  • Research the international requirements for each country you plan to visit.
    • The State Department has travel safety information for every country on their website and provides Cybersecurity Tips for International Travelers.
    • Some countries have restrictions on encrypted devices. Familiarize yourself with your destination’s laws about technology and check especially for encryption import restrictions. Violating these restrictions can result in your devices being confiscated!
  • Plan to take only what you absolutely need. Leave all unnecessary devices or equipment in the US.
  • If you must take your data/device with you, follow these guidelines:
    • Make sure the operating systems (OS) and all applications are updated to the latest available versions.
    • Make sure devices have approved security software installed to protect against malware and exploits.
    • Uninstall unused applications and turn off any unneeded background services since those can be used as possible "back doors" to get into your system.
    • Remove sensitive or confidential information from your devices before traveling. You can safely store data on university servers or approved cloud storage (e.g. Box) for later access.
    • Check if your device or devices, including externals such as thumb drives are encrypted.
  • Make sure that the password you use to get into your computer is different from the one you use with your NetID and different from any other services you use. This will protect you in the event you are required to give up your encryption password at a border check.
  • If your destination country allows the use of VPN (virtual private network), use it when you connect to Rice resources. This will create a secure tunnel protecting your information. AnyConnect VPN is the software to use for this purpose. 
  • Change your NetID password before traveling and change it again upon return by visiting Read ISO's guidance on managing passwords.

While Traveling

  • Disable all wireless communication technology when not in use. This means Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, NFC, RFID, etc. The simplest and fastest way to accomplish this is by putting your device in airplane mode.
  • Turn off systems when not in use.
  • Turn off "join wireless networks automatically" on all mobile devices. Avoid internet cafes and any wireless hot spots that ask to install any programs or certificates in order to use it.
  • Use web-based resources while traveling when available (Webmail, Gmail, Box, etc.) using AnyConnect VPN.
  • Make notes of anything that appears odd or unusual while using your devices.
  • Whether using someone else’s or your own computer, never accept patches or updates while in foreign countries.

Upon Return

  • If you travel with your own mobile device or laptop, check for and install any OS or program updates before connecting back onto the Rice campus system.
  • If you experienced any anomalies or suspicious activity, report it to the Information Security Office via the OIT Help Desk so that we can help you investigate. Please provide notes of when during your trip these oddities occurred to aid with the investigation.
  • Change any passwords used while abroad using a secure and trusted machine. Remember, sometimes a complex and unique password is the only thing preventing someone access to your information.

If you have any questions regarding these recommendations, please contact the OIT Help Desk.