Travel with Electronics

Travel with Electronics

Security tips for traveling abroad with mobile devices

Ensuring the Safety of Information and Devices While Travelling

Essential Security Tips and Strategies for Secure Journeys

It is crucial to prioritize the security of your electronic devices while travelling abroad by safeguarding your personal and sensitive information, and confidential or high risk UBC information. Here are some essential security tips to ensure a safe and worry-free travel experience.

1Pre-travel preparation

Consult official sources and learn about travel advice by destination. The Government of Canada's Travel Advice and Advisories page provides up-to-the-minute official travel information to help you make informed decisions and travel safely outside of Canada. Check the page for your destination regularly, as safety and security conditions change often.

Prepare your devices and assess cybersecurity risks at destination

Before your trip, take these steps to secure your devices:

  • Ensure that your devices are encrypted* and the device and apps are up to date with the latest software versions.
  • Lock your device with a strong PIN, passphrase, or password, and enable multi-factor authentication on your accounts.
  • Consider using a "loaner device" that you don't use for everyday work activities. Speak to your local IT Helpdesk to see if this is possible. Also see the important note about travelling with encrypted devices.*
  • Remove sensitive information from your work laptop; remember that OneDrive creates a local sync copy on your hard drives.
  • Remove unnecessary data, apps, and payment methods from your device.
  • Disable features like Bluetooth and wireless headsets when not in use.
  • Depending on your travel destination you may want to consider removing sensitive apps if necessary (e.g., Microsoft Teams, UBC email).
  • Be prepared for the fact that border officials often have broad inspection powers, which can include unlocking or seeking passwords to your laptop, tablet or mobile phone. We recommend that travelers personally unlock their devices rather than providing passwords to authorities if allowed.
  • Review UBC’s Information Security Standard U6 – Working Remotely.

*Note. Some countries do not allow encrypted devices. If you are travelling to a country where encryption is not allowed, you should take unencrypted loaner devices with no UBC information stored locally on that device. Microsoft Teams and Outlook should be removed; email should be accessed via web browser, and consider emailing important links to yourself so that they can be accessed via browser if needed. Review the Security Considerations for International Travel With Mobile Devices security guideline for more information.

We recommend checking guidance from the Government of Canada for any potential updates about Device security for travel and telework abroad and ensure you read about Cyber security while travelling.

Make sure you are prepared before you travel by considering the data protection laws in your destination country. Remember, it is wise not to carry any sensitive data across borders if you are not ready to lose or disclose it, as laws regarding intellectual property and digital information can vary widely.

2During your trip

While traveling, be mindful of your surroundings and the security of your data:

  • Avoid using public Wi-Fi networks for sensitive activities such as online banking or accessing personal information.
  • Use a Virtual Private Network (VPN) whenever possible for added security when connecting to public Wi-Fi networks.
  • Turn off automatic connection features on your devices to prevent them from connecting to unknown or potentially unsafe networks without your knowledge.
  • Regularly monitor your electronic devices for any signs of unauthorized access, unusual behavior, or suspicious activity.
  • If you need to install local apps like WeChat or AliPay to get by, do so before traveling, and use a unique passphrase or complex password. Uninstall them promptly after use.

Learn more from the Government of Canada about Remaining cyber safe while travelling and read about Mobile devices and business travellers.

3After your trip

When you return home, take these steps to clean up and secure your devices:

  • If you borrowed a loaner device, return it to the IT Department and explain that you have just returned from an international trip so the loaner needs to be wiped and reset before reconnecting it to the UBC network.
  • Change the passwords and PINs on any devices and accounts you used on your travels.
  • Stay diligent; many people report an uptick in targeted phishing and fraud attempts after travelling.
  • Watch your credit card statements for any unusual activity and report these immediately to your credit card provider.
  • Report any suspected security incidents to UBC Cybersecurity by emailing .


Go even further...

Following the guidance provided by the Government of Canada can go a long way in safeguarding your devices and personal information while you're abroad. With these precautions in place, you can journey with peace of mind, knowing that your electronic devices are shielded from potential threats.

Stay up to date on the latest developments and frequently visit websites like the Government of Canada's Cyber Security and Travel Advisory pages for valuable insights.

Travel advice and advisories by destination
Device security for travel and telework abroad
Cyber security while travelling
Remaining cyber safe while travelling: security recommendations
Mobile devices and business travellers