Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Security Director Tips: On Checking Your Electronic Privacy Rights at the Border

"Our lives are on our laptops – family photos, medical documents, banking information, details about what websites we visit, and so much more. Thanks to protections enshrined in the U.S. Constitution, the government generally can’t snoop through your laptop for no reason. But those privacy protections don’t safeguard travelers at the U.S. border, where the U.S. government can take an electronic device, search through all the files, and keep it for a while for further scrutiny – without any suspicion of wrongdoing whatsoever."

Thus begins the Electronic Frontier Foundation's new paper, Defending Privacy at the Border - A Guide for Travelers Carrying Digital Devices which is full of good tips for protecting your electronic information while traveling. Keep in mind, although the paper focuses on the United States border crossings, you will also be dealing with the country you are visiting. And, some of them are a whole lot more aggressive.

Random Tip #1 - Before your trip, mail your laptop to a trusted person at your final destination. Password protect your drive. Encrypt the data on the drive. Only have essential information on the drive. Wipe the drive before you return home.

Random Tip #2 - "On the most modern laptops, it’s possible to use an SD card like a hard drive; thus, you can choose to use an SD card in place of a conventional hard drive and keep your entire operating system and all your data on on it. (You should still use disk encryption for the data on the SD card.) Since you can keep the SD card in your pocket or wallet when it’s not in use, it’s considerably harder for someone to take it from you without your knowledge or tamper with it (although, since it’s so tiny, it’s much easier to lose)... it’s easier to send them in the mail or even easily erase or destroy a card when you no longer need it... You can even use the same SD card in a digital camera for taking photos, so that a single card serves both as your camera storage medium and your encrypted hard drive."

Safe travels. ~Kevin