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US Customs and Border Patrol Demanded NASA Scientist's PIN

NASA scientist was detained by U.S. Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) after flying into Houston from Chile. Bikkannavar, who is a U.S. citizen and works at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), was not be allowed to leave until he gave the agent the code to unlock his government-issued smartphone.

While this may be news for the US, this is commonplace when transiting other countries' borders. An IT security instructor who was asked by customs officials to unlock his phone when entering Canada. If you travel internationally, store your data in the cloud and sign out of your accounts before passing through customs. This provides some protection against a customs official accessing your cloud-based data (files, email, private social media messages) just because you had to turn over your phone password.

Tips for Travel

Backup All important Data

  • Register with Smart Traveler Enrollment Program

  • Setup a temporary email account forward normal accounts (Only if needed)

  • Encrypt before you delete sensitive information and after if you reset your device

  • Factory reset / Delete Sensitive Information

  • Strong passcode six digit at least (No Fingerprint or simple pattern)

  • Lock on sleep

  • Disable Location tracking and history

  • Use your own Charger only never plug into an unknown computer or charger

  • Don’t Click on links in text’s or email’s

  • Disable WiFi and Bluetooth when not using

  • Forget / Remove all Wireless and Bluetooth networks (i.e. Starbucks)

  • Change passwords for any site accessed out of the country i.e.

  • DO NOT POST about trip until after return

  • Re-image, Delete, or Destroy any Hard Drive taken out of the country

  • Check email and credit

  • Change all passwords used overseas.

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