Cyber security while travelling

More and more Canadians are travelling with electronic devices such as phones, tablets and laptops. Unfortunately, when you are travelling you can be more at risk of cyber-based threats, and your devices can easily be compromised or stolen.

On this page

Using Wi-Fi

Using shared or public computers

Using Bluetooth

Tips to stay cyber safe while travelling

Protecting your equipment

Digital information laws and regulations in other countries

Using Wi-Fi

You can connect your devices to the Internet at wireless access points, sometimes free of charge, at coffee shops, in hotels or at airports during your travels. These highly unsecure public Wi-Fi networks are accessible to everyone. They are easily hacked because they don’t require authentication for users to connect and they may use weak encryption protocols.

People intending to steal identities and personal information may establish free Internet access points that are made to look trustworthy. They can name an access point or Wi-Fi network anything, even mimicking or adding a single letter to the name of a trusted network. When you connect to their system, you open your devices to attack. Be sure to confirm the name of any Internet connection before you log on.

Any information that you send over an unknown network could be intercepted. Avoid logging into sensitive accounts (like your bank account) or sending sensitive information that you wouldn’t want other people to know.

Using shared or public computers

A keylogger is type of a malware commonly used to steal personal information. Keyloggers are hidden software applications or physical devices attached to computers that capture any information that is entered into a device. To protect yourself from keyloggers:

Using Bluetooth

Bluetooth is a technology that enables a short-range radio frequency connection between two devices and allows you to make hands-free phone calls while driving. With Bluetooth, users have to allow another device to connect to their device before an exchange of data can take place. Once this connection is made, data can flow freely between the two devices with little or no user confirmation. 

Be careful when pairing devices to Bluetooth-enabled cars. When you pair your device with a car, your personal information is stored on the car’s system. It’s best to not pair devices with rental cars, but if you do, make sure you delete any stored data and remove your device from the rental car’s paired device list.

Be cautious in managing your device’s Bluetooth connections or allowing access to your devices via Bluetooth. Check the networking capabilities of the Bluetooth settings of your devices:

Tips to stay cyber safe while travelling

Before you go

While you are travelling

Protecting your equipment

Protecting the physical security of your devices is just as important as protecting yourself through digital measures. Electronic devices are popular targets for thieves, since they are relatively small and can yield a high profit. A thief can transfer data from your unattended device to a secondary storage device and can upload malicious software to be accessed later.   

Digital information laws and regulations in other countries

You must obey the intellectual property, digital information and encrypted data laws in the countries that you visit. What is considered legal in Canada may not necessarily be legal in another country. For example:

Laws may apply to the hardware and the format in which your data is stored. If you are not familiar with the laws covering intellectual property, digital information and encrypted data in the country where you are travelling, contact the embassy or mission of your destination country in Canada before you leave on your trip abroad. 

Border agents are legally entitled to search and confiscate the devices of anyone entering or leaving their countries. Do not take any data into another country that you are not prepared to lose. 

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