Data Security and Travel

— Written By Jeff Ware
en Español

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With our state Extension conference on the horizon, many of us will be traveling, presenting, and working remotely. If you use public Wi-Fi or access points, personal and University-related data on your devices is at risk unless you take steps to protect it. Additionally, the devices themselves are also at risk from theft unless you are vigilant.

Remember, you are ultimately responsible for the security of your computer and University-related data. See the following tips on keeping yourself and your data safe.

Using Your Computer

  1. Make sure your computer and software are current with updates.
  2. Turn off file and printer sharing.
    Instructions for Windows
    Instructions for Mac
  3. Lock or shut down your computer if not actively using it.
  4. Make sure that you know and connect to the correct wireless network. 
  5. Make sure that websites are secure. You should see https:// or a closed padlock in the location bar.
    Secure browser icon image

  6. When using public networks do not make purchases or do online banking. 
  7. VPNs can protect information when on public networks.
    1. You can use a personal VPN service or the NC State University VPN service.
    2. NC State University VPN will protect University sites by default, those sites that require Shibboleth / Duo login.
    3. If you know that in the future it will be necessary to business and online banking while on the road, you need to request access to the University full-tunnel VPN. Everything will pass through the University network.
      CALS IT: What is Full Tunnel VPN and How to Access
      Full Tunnel VPN Access
  8. Protect your smartphone. Make sure it is up to date on OS patches. Unless absolutely necessary, don’t use public charging stations.

Using Other Computers

  1. Use Incognito / Private Browsing mode on the web browser.
  2. Try to not access sites requiring passwords; if you do, make sure to log out of your account when finished and quit your browser.
  3. Use a clean USB thumb drive. Don’t have anything more than the necessary file(s) on the drive. Reformat the thumb drive when done with it.
  4. Do not use the computer USB port to charge your devices or transfer files
  5. Assume the conference room computer and its network is not safe or secure for anything but projecting.

For more on data security, please see the following NC State University resources: