Guidelines when traveling abroad

Follow these tips for inspection of technical devices

Duke offers some suggestions for those preparing to travel abroad who may encounter questions about their technical devices. As mentioned in the news, there has been a change in approach on border crossings, even those that have traditionally been less intrusive such as Canada or Caribbean countries.  While the enhanced screening measures have largely been seen for international travel, there have also been indications of it also happening for domestic travel.  See this FAQ for additional information about international travel.

  1. Don’t take data with you when you travel. Store your documents in Duke’s free Box service ( to access them securely while traveling.
  2. Consider using a loaner or cheap “burner” device. Check with your departmental IT or OIT for loaner laptops. For personal travel, consider investing in a so-called travel device, a cheap smartphone or computer that you use only abroad. (The New York Times offers more tips.)
  3. Log out of accounts before traveling such as email or cloud accounts (e.g. Box). Remove applications for social media and other accounts from your device prior to travel.
  4. Disable biometric devices such as fingerprint readers and set a strong PIN.
  5. Encrypt your laptop or device. For Duke-owned laptops, contact your departmental IT support for assistance with whole disk encryption (WDE) for Windows and Mac machines. Refer to Duke’s IT Security Office guidelines to enable encryption on iOS and Android mobile devices here.
  6. Use multi-factor authentication whenever possible. For Duke accounts, the DUO application and Yubikey allow secondary log-in passwords to be generated without having to be connected to the internet. MFA options exist for many other accounts like Google and Facebook.  Check for information on how to set these up.
  7. Be cooperative with any requests. If you’re asked for your password, kindly ask if you can log in to the device or application yourself instead. If your device is taken to another room or connected to a device during the inspection, it’s safe to assume the data has been copied and you should make notes of the date, time and encounter. Contact and Global Administrative and Travel Support if you have a device detained.
  8. If you have a bad experience involving travel, consider filing a complaint with the TSA: