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Data At Risk During Travel - Warning

Association of Corporate Travel Executives advice to business travelers states:

  1. That you should not carry any confidential, personal information that you do not want examined by third parties on your computer – or other electronic devices. This includes financial data, photographs, and email stored on computers, wireless phones, Blackberries, or iPod-type devices.
  2. That you should limit the amount of proprietary business information you carry on your computer, and that it be transmitted before crossing the border so you have access to it in the event your unit is seized.
  3. If your laptop also serves as your major home computer, get another one for travel purposes.
  4. The Association of Corporate Travel Executives is not advising travelers to hide data from U.S. border authorities, but to take steps to minimize the impact of its loss, or the inability to access it, in the event it is seized.

While I don't propose companies hide data from border authorities anywhere, it might be prudent for IT departments to issue 'travel laptops' which are properly secured and only contain the information relevant to the executives task while traveling on that occasion. Any remote access privileges should be strictly controlled and limited to the minimum. The credentials should be issued solely for that trip.

The presence of compromising personal or downloaded data may lead to seizure of the device and detainment of the executive. This could include movies, or other copyright material copied to any digital device. Executives may not be aware of local laws and customs and on occasion they may be diverted to unexpected destinations due to weather, mechanical or other problems.

The 'absolutely need to take' rule should apply to any information transported across borders in laptops or in any digital device.

Given that there are no rules, it is feasible to assume a disgruntled border official could decide to seize your laptop if they didn't like the tie you had on.


Note: Could this be an argument to allow executives to carry high level strong encryption tools so thay can download data at their destination for use in a country, avoiding the risk of cross border exposure?  


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