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One Step Ahead

February 21, 2012, Volume 58, No. 23

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Another tip in a series provided by the Offices of Information Systems & Computing and Audit, Compliance & Privacy.

Travel and Identity Theft— An Unfortunate Connection

While the risk of identity theft affects everyone from infants to the deceased, the avid traveler is at heightened risk of falling victim to this crime. According to USA Today, several circumstances combine to make the frequent traveler a preferred target of identity thieves:

Travelers rely on mobile electronic devices that are easily lost or stolen. Credent Technologies reported that in 2011 travelers lost 11,000 mobile devices at the busiest US airports alone

Travelers often use unsecured wireless networks at hotels, airports and other public areas, easily exposing their traffic to thieves nearby.

Thieves use Bluetooth technology to "pair" with the innocent traveler's own Bluetooth device, again gaining easy access to the traveler's information.

See www.usatoday.com/money/industries/travel/story/2011-12-12/Travelers-at-high-risk-of-identify-theft-experts-say/51841144/1

What to do? First, take with you only the personal or otherwise confidential information that you absolutely need. Second, talk to your LSP about encryption options, making sure to consult with Penn's Export Controls Office if there is any controlled information involved. Also, avoid unsecured wireless networks and connect to your data using secure VPNs when possible. Disable Bluetooth technology when you are not using it.

And don't forget about sensible non-tech solutions to minimize risk. For example, only carry the credit cards you absolutely need. Do not carry your Social Security card in your wallet. And use your credit card, rather than you debit card, in order to maximize your legal protections in case of fraud.

Your travel experiences should be everything you want them to be. Don't let even a small lapse in safe computing interfere.


For additional tips, see the One Step Ahead link on the Information Security website: www.upenn.edu/computing/security/


Almanac - February 21, 2012, Volume 58, No. 23