Summer is when many people make plans to attend professional conferences, visit the Cape, go out of the country, or decide on an urban adventure. We want to remind you of some things you should keep in mind, and remember to do when traveling this summer.
Can’t Believe Those Deals
As you’re considering places to go, if the deal is too good to be true, it probably is. Be wary of discount travel clubs and websites, vacation packages, and “going out of business” deals. These days, it’s incredibly easy to check the web for reviews on a particular company or deal to see whether it is legitimate, and if the service and price is as advertised. Tip: search keywords about the deal with the words “review,” “scam,” or “complaint.”
Keep Your Electronics & Data Safe
Whether you’re in a familiar place or a new one, do not leave your laptop, phone, or bag unattended in public; it only takes seconds for opportunistic thieves to grab your belongings and disappear. Even if you’re with your things, when sitting in public do not leave your bag or purse hanging from the back of your chair or by your feet, and keep your bag or purse zipped with all pockets closed.
For those big trips where you’re checking luggage, never store your valuables, electronics, or medications in anything you’re not carrying with you; every year hundreds of baggage handlers are caught stealing expensive items from travelers’ luggage.
Now is also a good time to make sure you have a strong passcode on your phone or tablet, along with a strong password on your laptop, to serve as barriers should something be stolen. A strong passcode contains more than four digits; a strong laptop password is at least eight characters long, contains upper and lower case letters, and numbers or special characters – this does make them complicated and hard to remember, but it is more effective and you can always use a password manager, such as the ones recommended in this article. And do not keep passcodes or passwords on a piece of paper (or anything else) that you carry with you.
If you are traveling for business and have sensitive or personally identifiable data (PII) stored on your Northeastern laptop, please contact the Office of Information Security at firstname.lastname@example.org before you leave. Laws and regulations govern how to store sensitive data on mobile devices while traveling, and the data or laptop may need to be encrypted to ensure its protection and compliance. For more information on PII, see the Appropriate Use Policy.
And even if nothing is nothing is stolen, there is always the chance that something will be lost. So it’s also a good idea to back up your mobile data before you go on a trip. External backup drives are inexpensive, and can also be encrypted for protection if they are ever stolen, and provide an easy and worry free solution to keep your data safe. Make sure to store your backup drive in a safe place.
A final tip: If you don’t need your electronic devices or valuables, leave them at home. You can’t lose what you don’t have.
Register Your Laptop with NUPD
Northeastern University Police Department will register your laptop free of charge. A small Stop Theft plate will be securely attached to your laptop, and the chances you’ll get it back if it’s stolen go up – just last month, NUPD posted about how they were able to reunite a registered laptop with its student owner.
— NU Police Department (@northeasternpd) April 9, 2015
To set up an appointment to register, please contact Crime Prevention Coordinator Off. John Farrell at 617.373.5402, Monday – Friday, 8 a.m. – 4 p.m.
You Have to Make Free and Public Wi-Fi Secure
Free and public wi-fi networks often have little or no security features, unlike NUwave, which is protected by enterprise encryption. What does this really mean to you? Third parties may be able to eavesdrop on or “sniff” your web browsing data, and read your usernames and passwords.
To protect yourself and your information, whenever possible, connect to a virtual private network (VPN) before logging into any website when using a free or public wi-fi network.
Northeastern offers the GlobalProtect VPN to connect securely to Northeastern resources, such as intranet websites, the shared Q:\ drive, and remote desktop connections. Learn more about the VPN and what Northeastern resources you can’t get to without it, and also how to use it.
However, that VPN does not protect you when visiting non-Northeastern resources, such as your bank or Gmail – for full security on other networks, consider using a third party VPN service (such as those recommended in this article) to secure all your wireless connections.
Don’t Let the Social Media World Know You’re Gone
Posting your travel plans on open forms of social media lets people know when you will be away from your home or apartment, and criminals could use this opportunity to steal your belongings. Be careful about how many people are aware of your travel plans. Do you really know and trust all the friends or followers that you have on social media? In this case using #latergram may make the most sense.
Faculty/Staff – Do Set Your Out of Office
Whether you’re going on vacation and won’t be checking email, or are going to be traveling for work and you won’t be able to keep up with your smartphone, it’s always a good idea to set an automatic reply on your email. How long are you gone? How often will you be checking (if at all)? Who can they contact in the meantime?
- Outlook Web App – Settings gear icon > Automatic replies
- Outlook for Windows – File > Automatic replies (Out of Office)
- Outlook for Mac – Tools > Out of Office
Different Countries, Different Rules
And finally, if you are traveling internationally, keep in mind that each country has different laws and practices. Here are some tips for safe international travel at SecureNU.