December 20, 2023

Cyber Safe Travel

As a public university, Texas A&M receives billions of cybersecurity attacks every day. Luckily, most of those are thwarted by our Technology Services team and security practices. It is important to stay vigilant when using university resources, and even more so when you are outside of the university’s network.

If you are planning to travel during the holidays, there are a number of cybersecurity tips to keep in mind.

Traveling, especially abroad, poses unique threats to the Texas A&M University community. Whether you plan to travel with a Texas A&M-owned device or other devices that may contain university research or business data, please contact your unit’s local information technology support team or Technology Services before your trip begins.

Your local IT support team:

  • May provide you with a loaner device. This is preferred in all cases of international travel.
  • Will need to ensure all the required security controls are installed and functioning on your devices.
  • Will ensure your system is patched and anti-virus software is installed.
  • Will verify that multifactor authentication is properly enabled.
  • Will help you back up your data and information.

Before You Go:

1. Sanitize Your Device

Remove all information not essential to your travel. Do not travel with confidential, proprietary or research data, if possible, and never travel with export-controlled information, even if it is encrypted.

2. Update Your Lock Settings

Set your devices to lock after a short time, and use strong personal identification numbers (PINs) and passwords. Most smartphones, laptops and tablets have security settings that allow you to lock the device using a PIN, password or fingerprint.

3. Be Careful With Public Wi-Fi

Your personal hotspot is often a safer alternative to free Wi-Fi. You should connect to a virtual private network (VPN) whenever possible or avoid visiting websites that contain confidential information, such as banking websites, to keep your information secure. And remember, only use secure websites that begin with “https://” when browsing online.

4. Disable Auto-Connect for Wi-Fi and Bluetooth

Before you travel, change your “automatic connection” Wi-Fi and Bluetooth settings so your smartphone and laptop must be manually connected every time you want to access the internet. While automatic connection is a nice feature when used at home, it’s not something you should allow while traveling abroad.  

5. Loss or Theft

Immediately report the loss or theft of electronic devices to local authorities and either or your local IT support team. Do not wait until you return to report loss or theft.

For more information before you travel abroad, please reference the international travel online resources available through Technology Services.