Belgian State Security recommends use of VPN and encryption when abroad

Belgian State Security recommends use of VPN and encryption when abroad

Last edited: November 19, 2019
Reading time: 2 minutes, 21 seconds

Belgian State Security (VSSE) has issued a “Security Passport”, which provides advice on data security for Belgians travelling abroad for business. The brochure was originally intended for government employees, but has been made available to the general public as it was felt that other persons and organizations could also benefit from it. Among other things, the brochure recommends using a VPN connection and encryption when abroad.

Security Passport for going abroad

The brochure is presented in the form of a “Security Passport” with useful tips on how to keep data safe while travelling. Some of the tips focus on practical matters, such as not announcing your trip on social media and avoiding sensitive conversations in taxis or public places. But a large part of the brochure also focuses on various levels of digital and online security.

The brochure gives advice for each part of the journey: before departure, during the journey and upon return. Easily identifiable “stamps” indicate the level of protection recommended depending on the level of risk, i.e. from requiring minimum protection (basic) to the strictest of measures (high).

Prior to departure

Prior to departure, State Security recommends limiting the number of digital documents you take with you to what is strictly necessary for the trip and keeping a back-up of them at home. Programs and mobile operating systems (Android and iOS) should have the latest versions installed, and an anti-virus program should be installed on all mobile devices.

You should also use safe locking methods on your devices (e.g. pin code, fingerprint and no easy patterns, as well as possibly two-factor authentication) and check all security and privacy settings of the accounts on these devices. Encrypting sensitive data and the use of a VPN is recommended.

During your trip

Anyone travelling outside the EU is advised to, if possible, take a mobile device to be used specifically for that trip and/or to put only necessary data on the device. If you must leave your smartphone somewhere unattended, remove the SIM card, memory card and, if possible, the battery.

Connecting to public Wi-Fi networks or charging via public USB charging points is not recommended. Such points can also be used to transfer malware and/or steal data. Turn bluetooth, Wi-Fi and NFC off whenever possible.

Upon return

Anyone who has concerns about possible incidents that may have occurred while abroad, is advised to have his or her computer and smartphone examined by a professional upon return and to change the devices’ passwords. If you have received a USB stick or other storage media and you are unsure of the source, let an expert check them before connecting them to your device(s).

More tips can be found in this Beginners Guide to Cybersecurity for Small Businesses and the article The Most Common Security Mistakes Made in the Workplace.

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