Travel Security

Prepare your everyday phone for travel


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_IF YOU’RE ON A LOW-RISK SHOOT, and require the convenience of working with a device you use frequently, you might bring your everyday phone with you on your travels. Before you leave, however, you’ll want to prepare your everyday phone to limit the data you bring to the border and lower the risk of compromise while you’re away.

If you have a separate mobile device you plan to use only while you travel, review our resources for sourcing a travel phoneA travel device has only the bare minimum of necessary information on it, intended for use in situations in the field. and downloading the apps and data you’ll need for travel.


Back up your everyday phone to local storage.

Make sure you’re backing up to an encrypted external storage device, or a home computer you trust. You’ll need this backup to restore your phone once you’re back from your trip.


Remove sensitive data from your everyday phone by either wiping the device entirely or selectively deleting apps, photos, contacts, and other data.

The data on your phone may be useful in some circumstances, but may also be risky to carry around with you abroad. Decide whether you feel comfortable starting from scratch, or prefer the convenience of deleting only sensitive data.


Make sure you have ideal privacy and security settings enabled on your phone, and that you’ve enabled full disk encryptionA process that encrypts all the data stored on the hard disk of a device while it powers down. This prevents someone without the decryption key from reading or tampering with your device's data..

Whether you’ve wiped your phone or not, you’ll want to follow mobile best practices before doing any work abroad. Adjust your privacy and security settings given the heightened risks you may face in the field, and secure your mobile data with full disk encryption.


Fill your phone only with the travel essentials.

Download the apps and you’ll need during your trip, and sign out of your unnecessary accounts before heading to the airport. Before storing any contacts you’ll need while abroad, consider your risk-adjusted, travel specific communications plan.

Photo by Catalin Cimpanu. Public domain.