The United States Cyber Consequences Unit


US-CCU Laptop Travel Guidelines



Laptop Security When Traveling Abroad

(US-CCU Guidelines)

  • Buy an inexpensive laptop for travel purposes (if you really need to travel with one)
  • Install only the applications you will actually need during the trip
  • Place the documents and data files you will need during the trip into a separate, secure, encrypted flash drive that you can carry in your pocket at all times
  • Make sure the laptop itself has not been accidentally loaded with any documents or data files, stored passwords, authentication cookies, accessories with personal information, or other sensitive settings and data
  • Make sure the travel laptop has a personal firewall enabled, virus protection, and the latest security patches
  • Put commercially sold anti-tamper seals over the travel laptop’s hard drive cover and over some of its case screws
  • Disable all the laptop’s external communications:  its wireless, infrared, Bluetooth, CD-ROM, USB port, etc.
  • Enable a password to use during booting
  • Disable booting from CDs, USB storage devices, or other external drives
  • Learn how to turn specific external connections back on when you need to use them, such as the USB connection for your secure flash drive
  • Make sure you disable an external connection each time you have finished using it
  • When you return home, transfer any material you need from your secure, encrypted flash drive to your other computers by sending it from an external computer
  • When you return home, have your cyber-security team examine the laptop for signs of hardware tampering and do a secure wipe and reload of the hard drive
  • Treat this laptop and flash drive in the future as outside devices that should not be directly connected to internal networks


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