Traveling Abroad - Computer/Data Security Tips for Faculty and Staff

Information Systems has complied a list of steps for faculty and staff to help ensure computer and personal data protection while traveling abroad. A PDF containing this information is attached to this article for easy offline reference.


  • If you don’t need it, don’t bring it! Decide ahead of time what device(s) and data you will actually need, and do your best to limit what you take. 

  • Make an inventory of all data you do take. In case your device is lost or stolen you will need to know what has been lost. 

  • Backup your computer. If your device is stolen while traveling, a backup will ensure you don’t lose everything. *Do not take the backup with you. 

  • Change the password for any Internet services you use such as myGate, Gmail, or Facebook. Enable multi-factor authentication on any critical websites you use.

  • If possible, encrypt your laptop, tablet, or other smart device. If the device is lost or stolen, your data is inaccessible. Windows 7-10 PCs can use built-in BitLocker encryption while Apple computers have FileVault. iOS devices are encrypted by default and many Android devices have an option to encrypt the device and any MicroSD card in use. 

  • Update all software and web browsers immediately before travel, especially antivirus (antivirus on personal devices, have your academic technician verify that SentinelOne endpoint protection is installed and up to date on MSU devices). If software updates are necessary while abroad, download the updates directly from the software vendor’s website.

  • If you need access to MSU resources remotely, make sure to put in a request via ticket to the Service Desk to confirm that you have access to the proper virtual pool or rights to access your on-campus device (if needed). All connections to MSU resources should be handled through the virtual machine access. See this knowledge base article for more information: 

  • Consider using a VPN service on your personal devices to secure your Internet traffic, especially when using Wifi in public places or hotels. Most VPN providers have a monthly subscription option. 

  • If you need a cell phone while traveling, consider purchasing a disposable phone with international calling, such as an International PayGo or GoPhone, and leave your smartphone at home. If you absolutely must take your own phone, make sure to contact your provider before you leave to determine if your phone is international capable and purchase an international calling plan.

  • Be sure to use strong passwords and always keep your devices locked, even if only leaving it unattended for a moment. Make sure your phone locks.

  • Disable auto connectivity for your Bluetooth and devices that connect to wireless networks. 


  • When checking websites such as Gmail, Facebook, or your bank account, make sure you log in from a trusted computer using a secure web page. Secure web pages have addresses beginning with https. Do not use an untrusted computer, such as in a cybercafe or hotel business center to check email, Facebook, or your bank account. Always logout when finished.

  • Be cautious when clicking on update pop-ups, especially while using untrusted hotel Internet connections. Some pop-ups are actually scams designed to trick people into installing malicious software. Update your software by going directly to the vendor’s website to avoid this type of scam. 

  • If you believe your myGate or RacerMail password has been compromised, you can reset it yourself at After inputting your username, choose “Forgot Password?”. If you need additional help, contact the MSU Service Desk at 270-809-2346.

  • In place of connecting to unrecognized wireless networks, utilize your phone as a hotspot.

  • For American citizens who feel endangered while traveling, contact the U.S. State Department Overseas Citizens Services:
    From within the U.S.: 1-888-407-4747
    From outside the U.S.: 1-202-501-4444


  • When you return to the U.S., you should reset your passwords. If passwords were compromised while you were abroad, even if you aren’t yet aware of it, changing them upon your return will render the stolen ones useless. 

  • If possible, erase and reload any devices taken with you. If malware was installed on your machine while traveling, this will aid in preventing further harm. 


For more security tips on traveling abroad, visit

Print Article


Article ID: 22966
Thu 1/12/17 4:12 PM
Thu 4/18/24 11:32 AM