The Travel Checklist for Smartphone Security

The Travel Checklist for Smartphone Security

Image of businessman at airport looking at airplane taking offOctober 30th is National Checklist Day. Checklists came to be a mandatory tool used by all pilots in the Boeing fleet after the tragic crash of their U.S. Government ordered Model 299 on October 30, 1935. Checklists have since extended beyond aviation across industries and into daily living. Fittingly with the National Checklist Day’s origins in aviation this post serves as a checklist for your smartphone security when you travel.

Mobile travelers are data rich targets. Whether business people with valuable information for adversaries or ordinary Joes on vacation, marketers, advertisers and cybercriminals eagerly take the data left open to them. Attackers will even go so far as to set up fake cell towers in highly trafficked areas  (like an airport or hotel) or implant malware on public power stations. As such, here are some things to cross check and keep in mind when you travel:

  1. Ensure you have the latest updates to trusted apps, firmware, operating systems.
  2. Create a standalone document of any travel information – important phone numbers, addresses, directions.
  3. Bring your phone manufacturer’s power plug as well as your own reliable power sources – do not use Public Power stations with Data/Power USB connections.
  4. Make sure you have a solid data plan on your phone and/or an additional MiFi
  5. Use a VPN to access and browse the Internet
  6. Avoid public WiFi, even go so far as to turn off WiFi access when not necessary
  7. Similarly, restrict blue-tooth and turn off when not in use
  8. Consider a privacy screen to protect your screen from your neighbors prying eyes
  9. Shut down your phone or using RF-blocking technology when travelling through choke-points such as airports, hotels even heavily attended conferences.
  10. Consider blocking off your microphones and cameras from sensitive conversations and surroundings

If travelling internationally, bear in mind that your rights as a U.S. citizen are forgone until you have cleared passport control and customs. And of particular interest are your 4th and 5th Amendment rights for unreasonable search / seizure and self-incrimination. Not only are you subject to the rules of the countries you visit, U.S. customs agents can ask you to unlock your phone and hand it over with detention the alternative for not complying with their request. Additionally, some countries automatically capture all phone information the moment the phone is powered up. Consider adding these points to your mobile security checklist when travelling internationally:

  1. Use a burner phone with the minimal applications and data you will need
  2. Consider using a local or regional SIM card
  3. Keep a list of international dialing codes handy
  4. Leverage RF blocking solutions especially if visiting any diplomatic hotels or travelling to China or Russia.

 

We hope your travels are smooth and your data stays safe! Feel free to contact Star Communications, Inc. for your specific smartphone security needs.

 

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