This recent NY Times article outlines the ways your data can fall into the hands of snoops and thieves if you’re not careful when traveling. The tips the article lists include some great security best practices.
1. Take only what you need. If you can, take a loaner laptop or one that contains only what you need for the trip and nothing more. Alternatively, if you must take sensitive data, carry it on a memory stick.
2. Use encryption. Encryption can be added to MIT laptops, mobile devices and memory sticks. To learn more about how to use and enable encryption, see: http://ist.mit.edu/encryption
3. Install a virtual private network (VPN). The VPN that MIT provides gives users an encrypted network connection, even when accessing the Internet via public or open wifi (such as at a hotel or cafe). This prevents anyone on the same public wifi from accessing your communications. Install the VPN client from the IS&T website: http://ist.mit.edu/vpn
4. Protect using a password. If you must take a phone, laptop or tablet with you on your trip, make sure it has a code or password on it. Some smartphones now have fingerprint sensors for locking/unlocking. Choose a strong password for your laptops (learn how). Create strong passwords for the mobile apps or websites you use for accessing sensitive information, and don’t leave passwords written down and stored near the devices you use them for.
5. Use layered protection. This means, for example, having extra copies of files safely stored elsewhere (not on your computer’s hard drive), or having your files backed up within the cloud. MIT offers CrashPlan, the new backup service that replaces TSM. Mobile devices can also use CrashPlan via CrashPlan apps.
Note: while having files in Dropbox can be convenient for sharing files with other colleagues, if you have installed Dropbox on your computer, the files are accessible to a thief who has stolen your computer. A recommendation would be to remove the DropBox folder from the computer prior to traveling and to access your Dropbox files via the Dropbox website. On mobile devices, the folder can be password protected within the Dropbox app. See these security tips for Dropbox users.
Find more tips for MIT Travelers in this KB article.