A Security Reminder for the Traveling Employee – Encryption May Result in Data Compromise

By Soo Kang posted 14 days ago

  
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Often people carry a laptop or tablet when traveling for business with no thought to potential restrictions. However, where travel takes you out of country there are additional considerations when it comes to data management. Specifically, not all data are created equal.

There are different classes of data, from sensitive, confidential, restricted, public, and a variety of other designations dependent on the level of granularity adopted by a particular company. In most instances, utilizing encryption software on the device is standard practice to safeguard sensitive and confidential information. In fact, this is frequently a direct requirement for personal information and a recognized safe harbor for when that personal data is compromised. However, be careful where your travels require crossing international borders.

Legal mandates differ when it comes to allowing entry into a jurisdiction with an encrypted device, which may render security protocols implemented to safeguard information an unworkable solution. This may result in prohibition of entry, decryption of the device and copying it, or even seizure of the device. Not only will you be compromising sensitive and confidential information, but also potentially in violation of contractual obligations or laws governing unauthorized disclosure. At the very least, decrypting the device will make it more susceptible to theft and data loss.

Accordingly, before you travel, check the destination country or countries to determine whether restrictions exist. If they do exist, determine whether you can apply for an exemption or an import license to travel with the encrypted device. If not, it is best to travel with a “clean” or “loaner” device bereft of confidential and sensitive information.

For more information on travel restrictions, consult the US State Department, the official websites of the travel destination, and the Wassenaar Arrangement website.

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