How to protect your laptop under the ban on electronic devices on flights to the US?

(CNNMoney) – Whether you want to watch TV, get ahead of work or distract a young child so that he doesn’t shout for 15 hours straight, the new rules on prohibited cabin devices for flights to the United States are problematic. But they can also represent significant security challenges for your hardware and data.


The United States announced a new standard that prohibits cockpit electronic devices that are larger than a smartphone, for some flights to the United States. This measure includes laptops, tablets, and cameras and applies to routes that come from 10 airports in 8 countries in the Middle East and North Africa. The government attributed the new security policy to concerns about bombs. Britain also made a similar decision this Tuesday.


Registering the devices in the luggage leaves them vulnerable to damage, loss and even hacking. Before delivering any electronic device to the airline, consider the risks and take some measures to protect the equipment and your data.


It can break or lose


Even the airlines do not want you to leave your expensive electronic devices in your checked baggage. Once a suitcase is checked, it is thrown on conveyor belts, trucks and airplanes. A bad blow can cause very serious damage.


Many airlines have specifically said that they would not be responsible if such items are broken or lost. In fact, they warn that valuable or fragile items should not be packed in checked baggage. For example, United Airlines indicates not to register “computer hardware/software and electronic components/equipment”.


They can hack him


As soon as you leave your computer or tablet away from your sight, it is vulnerable to being hacked.


“Every time your computer is out of possession all bets come into play. Malware and spyware can be installed, ”said Rene Kolga, head of the production at ThinAir.


Registered luggage goes through an X-ray machine, but employees of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) are entitled to open any luggage and examine its contents. Suitcases that have laptops and other electronic devices are usually inspected directly. Airlines are usually looking for bombs or other dangerous items. So it is very possible that any subject alters your device without even realizing it.


Someone can get information from your computer “in seconds” through a malicious USB device, Kolga said.


“Most likely, the device will be treated with a keylogger or other type of implant that will help locate the device (and its owner) at a later stage, allow remote access or at least make it possible to control the use of the device,” he explained. Erka Koivunen, head of information security at F-Secure.


Make sure you keep your data safe


The best way to keep your data safe from falling into the wrong hands is not to register a computer.


If you need to carry a device, make sure you at least set it a password or an access fingerprint and activate the removal of remote information in case it is stolen. Also, make a full backup before arriving at the airport. Experts recommend turning off the computer completely and not just putting it in nap mode.


It is possible to access a device if you only have a simple password lock. A safer option is to remove everything from the computer or tablet before traveling. Koivunen recommends deleting most local data, as well as authentication codes, cookies, and certificates.


Since it is very difficult to completely clean all traces of your device information, you can consider using a “burner” computer to travel: a cheap machine that does not have sensitive information on it.


If you need to access your work or personal files in your travel destination here are a couple of options. You can upload it all to the cloud, but check that there are also no copies saved on the hard drive.


“Although saving information in the cloud brings its own security concerns, it allows convenient remote access from almost any electronic device, including smartphones that are allowed in recent flight safety improvements,” said Joe Levy, chief technology officer. in the security firm Sophos.


If you save data on the device, you should encrypt it. Most operating systems offer integrated options for full disk encryption.


Now, if you are traveling with a device associated with your work, check your company’s security policy. Some department

Now, if you are traveling with a device associated with your work, check your company’s security policy. Some technology departments ask that computers not go in checked baggage.


There could also be the possibility that they provide you with completely clean computers specifically for travel or that can configure the encryption for you. The devices should be claimed before you connect to a work network, said Javvad Malik, a security lawyer at AlienVault.


Koivunen also recommends putting your devices in a safety bag so you can know if someone tried to access them. If you are still worried when you receive the computer back, you can do something else. Monitoring software like Little Snitch can detect if someone is collecting data from your computer.

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