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Office of the AVP & CTO



IT Security Tips for McMaster Users Travelling Abroad

Last updated: February 2024

General Guidance for International Travel

  • Never give out your password to at anyone any point in time during your travel.
  • Watch out for spam or unsolicited SMS text messages or emails asking you to do something urgent right away or anything to do with your financial information. The Government of Canada is warning of increasing overseas fraud impacting Canadians.
  • Utilize a Virtual Private Network (VPN) connection wherever possible, especially if needing to access personal or financial data at transit terminals or at your destination’s Wi-Fi hotspot.
  • Always have either your work and/or personal device(s) on you or in your carry-on. If you need to store the device, ensure the battery and any storage devices (e.g. SD card, memory expansion cards) are removed prior to your departure.
  • Acquire an International SIM from a reputable and trusted cell provider that’s supported in the country that you’re travelling to.
  • Avoid using open Wi-Fi connection hotspots, using them as a last resort only, and turn off other unused wireless connectivity such as Bluetooth. 
  • Avoid storing any sensitive or personally identifiable information on your device while travelling since devices are easily lost or stolen.
  • Some travel destinations may not have a stable or reliable internet connection, or there may be latency for data to travel a further distance.
  • Review McMaster’s Travel Safety and Planning for additional tips and precautions to take while travelling.

Before Travel

  • Review the Government of Canada Travel Advisories for any cyber security and cybercrime advisories for the country or countries you are travelling to.  
  • Ensure that the clocks on your PC and phone are synced correctly to the destination’s time zone prior to accessing university email or any application that asks for your McMaster Microsoft account. (e.g: If travelling to Vancouver, ensure that the clock is synced to Pacific Standard Time and not Eastern Standard Time prior to logging into Avenue2Learn).
  • Ensure all software, applications and Windows or Apple products are all up to date.
  • Have all important files and documents backed-up onto a Cloud platform, such as Microsoft OneDrive, since portable drives may get damaged, lost or stolen.
  • Remove any sensitive files or documents on your phone or computer containing any logins to the websites you visit. Use a password manager, such as LastPass, Keeper, KeepassXC, etc.
  • Ensure all security features that your device supports are enabled on your device (i.e. passcodes, PINs, biometrics, timeouts, etc.).
  • Leave all nonessential devices at home if you’re not planning to use them all the time.
  • If possible, use a computer or device that doesn’t contain a lot of personal information, files, applications and contacts to reduce the risk in case the device is compromised, lost or stolen.
  • Acquire an international SIM card from reputable providers at their standalone stores (i.e: Bell, Telus, etc..) if you plan to go overseas.
  • If MFA is enabled on your account, ensure the device is properly working as intended (e.g: able to receive text messages or receive codes to the authenticator app).
  • Ensure your devices and data are encrypted in case your device is lost or stolen.
  • For additional cyber security tips while travelling, please see the Government of Canada Cyber security while travelling. 

During Travel

  • Make sure to keep your devices and chargers in a safe place.
  • Make sure to check the Wi-Fi you are connecting to and know it’s a recognized network.
  • Do not store personal devices in checked baggage. Always have your devices in your carry-on or with you.
  • Turn off unnecessary wireless communication services, such as location tracker and Bluetooth where applicable and when not actively using (e.g. listening to music or making calls).
  • Make a note of the accounts and applications you’ve used during your trip.
  • For additional cyber security tips while travelling, please see the Government of Canada Remaining cyber safe while travelling: security recommendations. 

After Travel

  • Reset any account passwords and reinstall apps used on your trip.
  • Clear browser history and session information.
  • Make sure to re-check default sign-in methods if you had them changed.
  • Check sign-in activity on your account a few days after travel to ensure no suspicious activity.
  • Reset passcodes and switch devices if possible.
  • Switch out the international travel SIM with the SIM provided by your Canadian service provide.

To report an information security incident, please visit: for contact information.