IT Security & Network Security News & Reviews: Mobile Data Security: 10 Tips to Avoid Prying Eyes at the U.S. Border
1) Dont Take Any Data With You
Take a laptop with a fresh operating system installed or a phone reset to factory defaults when traveling and download the data once at the destination. With the ability to back up mobile devices online and a plethora of cloud data storage options, this is increasingly becoming a reasonable option, assuming there is enough bandwidth.
While the U.S. Constitution generally prevents the government from snooping through personal laptops without just cause, those protections don't apply at the U.S. border, where agents can take any electronic device, search through all the data and keep it for further scrutiny, even without cause. Business travelers, lawyers, doctors and other professionals may have confidential or privileged information on their devices that need to be protected. Even personal devices can contain a wealth of sensitive information, including medical records and financial documents. "Our lives are on our laptops-family photos, medical documents, banking information, details about what Websites we visit, and so much more," the Electronic Frontier Foundation's Seth Schoen, Marcia Hofmann and Rowan Reynolds wrote in a guide for travelers carrying digital devices. While agents are authorized to keep the devices up to 30 days for their search, anecdotal evidence suggests they can take longer, according to the EFF. For organizations with compliance requirements, having confidential data out of their control for an extended period of time can have serious repercussions. These searches can also impact employee productivity while waiting for the search to complete. Below are some tips from the EFF on how to protect data privacy on electronic devices in case of a border search.