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Travel Checklist Before Going Preparation Computer iPhone Mobile Phone Domestic International Securing Technology and Information

Effective Living | Technology

Summary. This page provides some tips relating to securing technology and information. These suggestions generally refer to International travel or travel to areas where theft and loss may be a problem.

  • Contacts. In general, mobile technology such as a notebook computer and an iPhone can be a great way to keep in touch with your work-life while on the road. However, with the prevalence of equipment being lost or stolen while traveling, there is an increased risk of data and security loss. For this reason, it may be best to travel with a subset of your data. In addition to security reasons, a vacation traveler might enjoy the trip more without being so connected to the clutter of home. It’s common to store sensitive information such as passwords, credit cards, social security numbers, birthdays, and other details in the notes area for a contact. Consider creating duplicate cards for a dozen people that you really need to be in touch with. For these duplicate cards, have only the person’s phone, email, and other pertinent data. Create a group in your contacts called travel. In this group, include only the contact entries for the dozen people you might need to reach while traveling – using the cards with very little information. Most portable devices (such as the iPhone) will allow synchronization with a group within your contacts. The travel group of contacts could also be exported (from Outlook for example) to a file (PST file for Outlook) and then imported on your notebook computer. Without this precautionary measure, if your notebook or handheld device were stolen and sold on the black market for data mining, you may inadvertently contribute to identity theft that negatively impacts family, friends, colleagues, clients, and/or your business.
  • Memory Stick With Biometric Security and Encryption. A memory stick may seem easier to lose, yet a hard drive may be more likely to get stolen. So, if you must carry important files with you, consider having them stored on a memory stick or external hard drive. Having biometric security on the device will provide some additional security. Some devices even offer hardware level encryption with biometric security.
  • Notebook Computer. Consider having a separate notebook computer for travel. Generally, a person has different Internet bookmarks / favorites while traveling. Keep the travel computer cleaned off with all website forms and passwords removed.
  • Passwords. If you need to keep a printed or electronic list of your passwords, consider encrypting them and having a decryption key – either electronic encryption or manual encryption. Manual encryption involves having a key that you remember, such as 1234. If your password is z1e2b3r4a then you can simply write down the word “zebra” and only you know that the numbers 1234 are the key to make the password (as it is written) work. A four digit number is easy to remember, yet effective to keep your password list really secure. Other creative approaches to encryption and decryption also work. For example, if  your password is “ZeBrA” you could write down zebra. The key to unlock your passwords then would be to capitalize every other letter beginning with the first. If you know a second or third language, you could write the passwords down in one language and have the actual password be a word in the other language.  For travel, it may be sufficient to simply keep a few primary passwords memorized in your head.
  • Secure Computing. When at home or at work, one can generally feel a little more secure about the privacy of the computing environment. However, when traveling, one never knows the security of a particular wireless network. If you are using someone else’s computer, or a public computer, there is no assurance that the computer isn’t infected with viruses and/or data mining software that records your keystrokes. So, even if your passwords are securely stored, as soon as you use them on a network of unknown privacy and security, they could be stolen.

By Greg Johnson

Greg Johnson is a freelance writer and tech consultant in Iowa City. He is also the founder and Director of the ResourcesForLife.com website. Learn more at AboutGregJohnson.com