International travel: technology and security

This article reviews LITS's recommendations when traveling internationally with computers and mobile devices.

College and personal accounts

Using Duo

Set up Duo Mobile to access College accounts without an international phone or data plan!

Consider requesting a Duo security token as a secondary authentication method, which works completely offline!

Attention: Some high-risk countries restrict access to specific websites, providers, or security tokens.

Privacy and security

International calling

Use the MiCollab mobile app's softphone to place and receive calls from your College phone number. Charges may apply if you use cellular data instead of Wi-Fi; check with your provider to prevent this!

Encrypted devices

Attention: All College computers are, and must be, encrypted per College and LITS policy.

Some countries heavily regulate or ban the import, export, and use of encrypted devices (e.g., Computers, phones, and tablets). Travelling without proper authorization could result in fines, confiscation, or other penalties.

Preparing for travel

Note: What is the Wassenaar Arrangement?

  1. Check if your destination restricts encrypted devices.
  2. If they do, please contact the Help Desk to arrange for a temporary unencrypted loaner.

Exceptions: high-risk countries

Attention: The U.S. designates some countries, such as China and Russia, as "high-risk" for information security. Always check the U.S. Department of State before travelling!

Why it matters

When travelling to a high-risk country, assume that any device or account used while abroad is compromised. Electronic devices are vulnerable to physical or otherwise undetectable tampering.

  • Compromised accounts affect your data and the College's.
  • Security software is not guaranteed to prevent targeted attacks.
  • U.S. travelers, particularly STEM faculty, are priority targets for cyberattack(s).

Guiding principles

  1. Don't travel with electronic devices.
  2. If electronic devices are needed, use burner devices.
  3. Don't log in to any College or personal accounts.
  4. If you must log in to an account: 
    • only use those protected by two-factor authentication
    • change your password when you return

How to prepare

Before you leave

What to leave in the US

While you're there

  • Avoid making calls or sending SMS messages.
  • Don't access any sites or services that require a VPN.
  • Don't use a VPN, including the College's Pulse Secure VPN.
  • Don't leave your device(s) unattended.
  • Don't log in to any College or personal accounts.
  • Don't use public charging stations, computers, or Wi-Fi.

When you return

Further reading and references


If you have any additional questions or problems, don't hesitate to reach out to the Help Desk!

Phone: 610-526-7440 | Library and Help Desk hours
Email: help@brynmawr.eduService catalog
Location: Canaday Library 1st floor