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Technology & Photography

Safe Use of Technology Abroad

When you travel internationally, it is important to keep your electronic devices as secure as possible. Data that you carry may be valuable to individuals, foreign governments and other entities that may attempt to steal it. The use of unsecured networks, as well as the physical threats of damage to or theft of your devices are heightened during international trips. Taking steps to prepare yourself before departure, and exercising the proper precautions while you are abroad, can help to mitigate some of these risks. 

Consider taking these steps before you leave the U.S.:

  • Back up your data and keep a copy of it in a secure location. If possible, remove all sensitive information from your device (e.g., non-directory information on students, any sensitive personal information, proprietary institutional data, etc.), and password protect or encrypt anything that you cannot remove. 
  • Change your myUK password, and change passwords to frequently-accessed sites (e.g., Facebook, e-mail accounts, etc.). 
  • Update all software, and ensure that you have up to date anti-virus, anti-spyware and firewall software installed. 
  • Ensure that your internet browsers are not set to remember passwords. 
  • Turn off Bluetooth. 
  • Be aware that in some countries, businesses or governments may attempt to steal valuable intellectual information saved on your device. If you are visiting a country at risk for such activity, avoid bringing sensitive information.

While you are abroad:

  • Remember that at points of entry and exit, countries claim a right to search and seize your technology. If you experience this, comply with the official’s request. Once there has been a resolution, and when you can safely do so, contact UK to inform the institution of what occurred. 
  • Remember that public networks should not be trusted. 
  • If you must use a public network, log on to the University’s VPN to provide some protection. 
  • Remember that in some countries, governments may monitor your internet use without informing you. 
  • Remember that pop-ups are often designed to install malicious software on your device. Be wary of clicking them. 
  • Never leave any electronic device unattended, even in your hotel room. Doing so may result in theft of the data on the device, even if the device itself is physically left behind. 
  • Assume that any computer that you use, other than your own, is unprotected.

Taking Photographs & Videos Abroad

Taking photographs can be one of the most exciting and rewarding parts of an international trip. However, it is important to keep cultural and legal considerations in mind, as norms around photography can differ greatly between countries.  

In some places, taking photographs of individuals (especially women) is considered culturally inappropriate and may cause offense. In other places, individuals may expect to be tipped if you photograph them. Even in places that are relatively similar to the U.S., such as Western Europe, it can be inappropriate to photograph the interiors of certain museums and religious sites, or to use selfie sticks. If in doubt, always ask before snapping a picture. 

Sometimes, there are even legal issues surrounding photography abroad. Never take pictures of military facilities. Depending on your destination country, it may also not be legal to photograph government buildings or certain religious structures. If you see a sign or receive a warning not to take a picture- heed it! Ignoring such restrictions can result in the confiscation of your camera, or even your arrest. 

 It is important to research the appropriate use of photography at your destination before you leave.