Secure Digital Life #71
Recorded on July 10, 2018 at G-Unit Studios in Rhode Island!
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Topic: Travel Security
Acceptable security while traveling should be a good mix of safety (first) and then convenience.
Can be broken down into three categories:
- Personal Security/Safety (safety of yourself and people you’re traveling with)
- Asset security and safety (luggage, laptops, phones, etc…)
- Digital Security (security of communications and transactions)
- Start by always being aware of your surroundings (you never know who is on the prowl **Queue Music** looking to cause harm). From the time you leave your house, to the time you return home, remain vigilant and aware
- Be friendly, but not too friendly. This is how you get into situations (tale of China)
- Have the phone numbers and addresses of places you are staying stored on you at all times
- If traveling internationally, have the emergency phone number(s) on you at all times (it’s not 9-1-1 everywhere you know). The State Department has a list of emergency numbers by country available here: https://travel.state.gov/content/dam/students-abroad/pdfs/911_ABROAD.pdf.
- Perhaps use locations services on your device to share your location with someone you trust back home (and test it!)
- Stay around safe areas (research these online or using guides like Lonely Planet or Frommer’s travel guides). The further you venture from those areas, the more at-risk you put yourself.
- Group tours can often be a good option if you are traveling alone. Check out sites like Viator.com, affordabletours.com, and Expedia for safe tours of tourist places.
- Start by ensuring you are carrying secure baggage (no holes/defects)
- Purchase TSA-approved locks (while they can still be broken into, it dissuades some of those crimes of opportunity)
- Clearly mark all of your luggage with something that distinguishes it (believe it or not, other people may have your exact same luggage)
- Make sure you avail yourself of hotel safes and safety boxes for important/expensive items (passports, laptops, jewelry, other valuables)
- Don’t carry a bunch of things with you when you leave hotel. Only carry what you absolutely need! A backpack or shoulder bag is fine. If you prefer, keep all your travel documents in a flat pouch (in front of you) under your shirt secured by your belt.
- There is a mixture of people who say do and don’t carry your passport with you at all times. While traveling in many countries outside the US, you’re supposed to, but my personal opinion (shared with many others) is that this opens yourself up as an easy target. In some cases, I prefer to take a photo of my passport (or bring my passport card with me at all times). I usually leave the passport in a secure location back at the hotel. Research the internet for your destination and see what other people have done.
- Register your overseas trip with the (Smart Traveler Enrollment Program) STEP program from the US State Department. Link: https://step.state.gov/step/ . This will ensure that if there is an emergency, the US Embassy and family members will be able to get in contact with you while you’re away.
- Travel insurance is relatively inexpensive (~$10/day/person). If going overseas, might be a good idea. (story of lost keys in Paris)
- GPS Transponders for assets (can be expensive/ineffective)
- Free/Included Wi-Fi security at hotels (mostly) sucks. Avoid it at all costs. Instead, use your cel phone as a hotspot or ask front desk for a (paid) more secure option.
- Use a VPN at all times. https://lifehacker.com/tag/vpn
- Disable wi-fi and bluetooth on mobile devices unless you absolutely need them
- Keep your mobile devices away from your contactless cards/passport. You don’t want to damage the sensitive electronics inside them.
- Setup Find Your Phone (Android) or Find iPhone (iOS) in case you lose your device or it gets stolen. This way, you can track it.
- Mobile rental vs. SIM card vs. Travel Pass
- Keep PINs and passwords hidden, not just at ATMs, but from your devices. Many of you use the same PIN on your mobile device as you do for your ATM! SHAME SHAME!
- Don’t use a debit card, always bring cash or credit. Debits can get compromised quite easily (shoulder surfing, skimming, etc…)
- Tell your credit card companies you are going away. Call them and have them put your card on travel advisory. Otherwise, your payment might get declined.
Traveling is a lot of fun, but also requires a lot of responsibility. Don’t be intimidated, use common sense, adhere to all of the things we mentioned above, and stay away from problem areas and you will have a good time. If you have any questions, comments, concerns, please give us a shout.