Friday, June 28, 2013

Four vacation security tips

My employer's weekly newsletter posted a set of five tips for people planning to vacation abroad. Four of these are are good advice for everybody, not just employees, so here they are. I've made some minor modifications the text to reflect the fact that some referenced resources are not available to the entire world, but the spirit of the content is unchanged.

  1. Before travelling to a new country, be sure to check up on the current situation or any vaccines that might be required. You can use the CDC's traveler's health site for vaccination information. The CIA Factbook is a good source for most other information about a country. (The original form of this tip referred to an internal corporate website instead of the CDC and CIA sites.)
  2. Carry copies of all your documents. Travel itineraries, Passports, Driving Licenses, can all be copied and placed on a USB key or personal email account. This ensures that you will be able to access them if they are lost. Consider using built in encryption if it is available. This will protect your information in the event that you lose the key.
  3. Be aware of local customs, laws and attitudes towards use of devices, sharing of information and websites; what is acceptable at home may not be acceptable abroad. Examples of this include the use of Facebook, public photography and use of phones in certain areas.
  4. Avoid "showing" devices, such as watches, cameras, smart phones and tablets, when travelling; this can lead to you being targeted for theft. Also be aware when using public networks or internet cafes with your devices.

The fifth item from the original message involves how to use corporate resources to recover a lost password if you forget it while traveling. Unfortunately, the ability to remotely reset a lost password generally requires your computer's authentication to come from an external source (like a Windows domain controller) and would therefore not be applicable to an individual traveling with a personal computer.

For non-login passwords, however, I recommend the use of a password management software package like 1Password. Packages like this securely track and manage passwords so you can use a unique secure password for every web site you visit, without your having to remember them all or write them down. They also include tools for auto-generating secure passwords.

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