Considerations for international travel

Traveling with technology: countries with travel advisories guidance

Extra precautions are advised if the U.S. Department of State has issued a travel advisory for the country to which you are planning to travel.

Please see WSU Information Technology Services Security Tips for International Travel for additional information. If you have questions about this information, please contact your local IT support personnel.

Pre-travel: weeks before leaving

  • Pre-register international travel. Registration is strongly advised when traveling to countries that the U.S. Department of State or the FBI advises that precautions are warranted. To find out if the country you are traveling to has a travel advisory, please click here. There may be specific issues to be aware of and prepare for to ensure safety and peace of mind.
    • Click here if you are a WSU student to register.
    • Click here if you are a WSU employee (faculty or staff) to register. WSU has partnered with On Call International to provide WSU employees and official volunteers with emergency and non-emergency related services and benefits to utilize while traveling. On Call International responds to critical medical or safety emergencies and can also help you resolve non-critical day to day travel problems any time you are traveling outside your home country on WSU related programs or business.
    • It is recommended that individuals also register their travel with the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy through the State Department’s travel registration website and enroll in the Department of State’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP).
  • Enable device encryption on all devices (computers, tablets, mobile phones, etc.). Confidential data must be encrypted if you travel with it. Enabling full disk encryption will protect all of the data and information on your devices should they get lost or stolen.
  • Arrange to use loaner laptops while traveling. Work with your departmental or local IT support to see if they can provide a loaner device(s) for your trip. If feasible, also use a “clean” phone and new email account while traveling.
  • Bring only the data and devices that you need for your trip. When possible, limit the amount of data stored directly on your devices while traveling. Consider using cloud storage solutions for data storage in lieu of storage directly on devices.
    • If the device is not essential, do not take it!
    • Sanitize all devices. Cell phones can be hacked to steal contact lists, usernames, passwords, and browser history.
    • Back up your data, then clear any data that you do not need on the trip. For data that you do bring, confirm you have recent backups of all your devices that will be traveling with you. Backups will help with recovery should your device become lost or stolen. Consult with the Crimson IT Service Desk if you have any questions about backing up your device.
    • Remove apps requiring user accounts and passwords that are not necessary.
    • Make an inventory of all devices that will be taken on the trip, including serial number, make, and model. Store it in a safe place with other key information (keep one copy at home and one with you).
    • Accessories may be swapped for those with surveillance capabilities. Leave Bluetooth earpieces and keyboards at home and turn off the Bluetooth function on all devices to prevent eavesdropping.
    • Cover or disable any integrated camera and disable integrated microphones.
    • Lock devices with a PIN or strong password (a combination of upper and lowercase letters, numbers and symbols).
  • Make sure all operating systems and applications are updated. Consult with your local IT support or contact the Crimson IT Service Desk for assistance with how to apply updates.
  • Install Virtual Private Network and Cisco AnyConnect client through WSU IT Services. It is recommend that you test this service from an off-campus location prior to traveling. Patch, update and secure device (VPN, antivirus, antispyware, firewalls, encryption, etc.).
  • Only store passwords within password management applications.
    • Do not store any passwords on the device outside of password management applications designed to securely store and handle login credentials (username/password combinations).
    • Create temporary accounts with strong passwords and do not use any of the passwords tied to current U.S. accounts, including voicemail passwords.
    • Some options for password management include Dashlane, 1Password, KeePass or LastPass. 
  • Review any guidelines or laws related to electronics for the country you are visiting.
    • Verify all data, internet, websites, and/or cloud services needed can be accessed while traveling.
    • Check for connectivity and internet consistency at your destination. This is especially important if you are planning to use cloud services.


While traveling: how to protect your devices during your trip

  • Do not leave your devices unattended or physically unsecured. When possible, keep your devices nearby or on your person. Always carry electronics in carry-on luggage and keep in possession at all times. Respectfully but firmly decline to let customs officers take devices to another room to inspect them without you.
  • Keep devices in sight at all times and be aware of surroundings. Consider the use of a privacy screen to prevent shoulder surfing. If you need to leave devices behind, secure them in hotel room safes or use physical cable locks.
  • Only connect to known and trusted networks. Always manually select the specific network you want to join, only after confirming its name and origin with the provider. Turn off wireless and Bluetooth when they are not actively being used.
  • Utilize Virtual Private Network and Cisco AnyConnect client through WSU IT Services. Connecting to WSU’s VPN service will securely encrypt data you send to services hosted at WSU.
  • Keep track of what credentials you use while traveling. Keep track of any personal or WSU account that you sign into while traveling. WSU strongly recommends that, at a minimum, you change these passwords when you return from your travel.
  • Do not allow other people’s electronic storage devices to connect to your device and do not connect to their devices. Avoid using any portable media such as a USB drive given to you while traveling. Using unknown drives may compromise your device and data security.


Post-travel: returning to campus after international travel

  • Using a trusted computer, change passwords for all services you accessed while away. When changing passwords for services you accessed while away, remember to pick strong, complex passwords, and do not reuse the same password for multiple services. 
  • If your device was lost, stolen, confiscated, or otherwise tampered with, inform WSU IT Services. If the above precautions were taken prior to and during travel, the level of risk from a device that is missing will be greatly reduced, but please inform WSU IT Services if any of the above occurred. 
  • Scan all data for viruses prior to copying it to another device. 
  • Clear temporary internet files.