Best practices for digital security while traveling to the 2016 Rio Olympics

This summer, an estimated 30,000 journalists will travel to Rio de Janeiro to report on the Olympic Games. The event is happening at a critical moment in Brazil, where the president is embroiled in impeachment proceedings and activists are calling for social change — bringing human rights to the forefront. Law enforcement in the country will also be operating complex new surveillance systems to provide security surrounding the games.

Whether you’re a journalist, human rights activist, businessperson, government official,  technologist, or athlete, digital security matters. And it matters even more as you cross borders, hop onto airport wifi, and use your devices around the world.

As you make your way to the Olympics, be sure to follow these simple tips to help you travel more securely.

  1. Back up your data.

The best way to prevent the loss of your data due to a stolen, lost, or crashed device is to backup your data.

  1. Encrypt your devices or leave them at home.

In case you lose physical control of your device, you can make it more likely your data stays secure with full disk encryption. Be aware that this only works when the device is powered off. When in doubt, leave sensitive material you’re concerned about at home.

  1. Set up two-factor authentication for your accounts.

Two-factor authentication for your online accounts ensures that even if your password is compromised, your account will still be protected. Always try to use the app-based two-factor authentication rather than SMS-based authentication, that way you can access your accounts even if you do not have cellular service. Don’t forget to print out a few one-time passwords to keep in your wallet in case you are separated from your cell phone. Check to see if your online account supports 2FA.

  1. Download a VPN client or Tor.

It’s always good to have a VPN (virtual private network) client or Tor available when you are traveling to protect your network traffic on untrusted networks, like at airports, hotels, and cafes.

  1. Keep your devices up to date.

A fully patched system has fewer known vulnerabilities, making it more difficult to compromise.

  1. Check out these other helpful resources.
  1. Feel free to bring any digital security questions or issues you may have to the Helpline.

Access Now’s Digital Security Helpline staff is available 24/7 for all of civil society’s digital security needs, and they speak Portuguese (PDF) and Spanish (PDF).

If you have any questions regarding these preparations, or if you would like assistance preparing, please contact us at [email protected].

Secure travels!