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Secure Travel Recommendations

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When traveling to any country, it is wise to be aware of your surroundings and to take precautions to protect your devices, data, and on-line identity. The use of a VPN and common sense may be enough in some countries – in other “high risk” countries, stricter measures must be taken.

MIT International Travel

MIT uses travel warnings and alerts issued by the U.S. Department of State, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and World Health Organization to categorize countries with a travel warning level of Extreme, High, or Medium.

For a list of locations with current ratings designated by this policy, check out the International Travel Risk Policy Country Warning Levels page. For questions and further MIT information please see the MIT International Travel Risk Policy site hosted by MIT's Global Support Resources site.

Secure Devices for International Travel

IS&T maintains a pool of computing equipment available for loan to eligible MIT students, faculty, and staff who are traveling outside of the United States. IS&T recommends leaving your standard MIT-issued and personally owned equipment at home and using loaner equipment when traveling internationally.

Applying the Secure Travel Recommendations below

In general, the below recommendations should be followed for all travel to or through countries designated by MIT with a High Travel Warning or higher, designated Level 3 or higher by the US State Department. In addition, several countries present an increased risk to traveling with digital technology in particular, due to digital surveillance concerns or VPN use restrictions. These countries may be rated lower than the above warning levels, but the secure travel recommendations listed below should still be followed. Consider VPN Blocking by Country and Internet Censorship and Surveillance by Country for more information.

These destinations present different challenges as the use of a VPN is prohibited, and most of your on-line activity can be monitored or accessed easily.

It is recommended that you do not bring your primary computer and smartphone. A travel device should have a minimal configuration (OS plus only necessary applications), and also be something you can be without in case of loss, theft, or confiscation. See Secure Devices for International Travel for more information on obtaining a loaner device.

Recommended Configurations



  • Operating System latest version of iOS with all patches/updates.
  • Email should be configured to download 1 week on your mail app.
  • Apps limited to only travel approved applications. Users will not be able to install any apps, as the device will be locked down, and unable to provide iTunes or other credentials.

Mobile Devices/Phones

  • OS Latest version with all updates.
  • Phone number should be forwarded to travel phone (leave your phone at home please).
  • Email should be configured to download 1 week on your mail app.
  • Apps limited to only travel approved applications. Users will not be able to install any apps, as the device will be locked down, and unable to provide iTunes or other credentials.

Approved Applications

  • TripCase for iOS by Sabre Inc
    TripCase is an all-in-one solution for managing your travel itinerary. This app comes in handy for managing your flights, hotel reservations, and car rentals in one consolidated library.
  • Bing app for iOS by Microsoft
    China has some restrictions on what websites and services you are allowed to use. Google Maps does not work, but Bing maps work and can serve as an alternative to Apple Maps depending on preference.
  • Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint by Microsoft
    The Microsoft Office applications Word, Excel, and PowerPoint may be used, but pay careful attention to how you store your files. We recommend that you store any potential sensitive materials on an encrypted flash drives. Note: Microsoft Outlook is not recommended. Only should be used from Laptop computers and Apple Mail configured to sync 1 week of email on loaner iPhones.

When you return

  • Change your Kerberos password.
  • If you checked your [voicemail] while traveling, change your voicemail passcode.
  • If you brought your computer, save any documents you created while traveling to an external drive, then erase your computer’s hard drive and restore from your pre-departure backup upon return. Scan the documents on the external drive with a virus scanner like Sophos before copying them to your newly restored computer.

Useful Links

IS&T Contributions

Documentation and information provided by IS&T staff members

Last Modified:

October 24, 2023

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