Ten Tips for the InfoSec Traveller

With RSA just around the corner, a number of infosec professionals will be packing up and doing some travel so here are a few tips to consider as you’re packing your bags.

10. Make a technology travel kit (including a travel computer)

This habit comes from my days of doing forensic investigations. There is nothing worst than having to remove a hard drive for imaging with a butter knife because you neglected to bring a screwdriver. Whether one’s travel is light or heavy, always be prepared! This means building a comprehensive kit that can be put together quickly and is light to carry.

Recommended Equipment
1. One cable for each piece of equipment (e.g. iPad and iPhone equals two USB cables)
2. Power adapters (The TrendMicro adapter pictured is worth it’s weight in gold)
3. Smartphone battery backup (extremely handing my personal choice is from Brookstone $40)
4. GPS that is not your smartphone. My personal choice is whatever is on sale when you go to buy (*Protip make this your second GPS, do not use the one you utilize at home).
5. Presentation Clicker: bring your own, never let anyone borrow (personal choice is from Targus)
6. A travel computer that is not your primary machine for computing at home (get an Apple already :-D)
7. Power supply for portable computer
8. A mouse (don’t get stuck using a trackpad on a massive excel document)
9. Display adapters (if necessary for your computer)
10. A portable projector (if work will pay for it)

9. Portable surge protectors are lifesavers in airports and conf. rooms

Every InfoSec traveller has been there, a piece of crucial electronic equipment, whether it’s a computer, cellphone, or other is dead and there are no open electrical outlets in the airport. For the inexperienced traveller this will set them out on a quest for that open face to 120v goodness, but not you, no you’ve got your own portable surge protector. Now you can share an open outlet with someone else. Even better, you can charge your computer, iPhone, iPad, and possibly something else all at the same time!

Recommended Products
There are a ton of products to choose from here, but one key feature to absolutely consider is the inclusion of USB charging outlets. This reduces the number of chargers one has to bring to charge a number of diverse devices. My personal choice in this realm is the Belkin Portable Mini Surge with USB Charging Outlet for $14.95. One thing to remember though is that this will not fit into some tight places, for those one will need a bigger surge protector with a cable, which is something that I normally go without.

8. Get a smartphone and a tablet

Ok, in many ways this goes without saying. However, if you’re running around with a Blackberry, you’re missing out on a whole lot. There are a slew of applications for both tablets and smartphones (particularly iPhones and Android powered phones) that are extremely useful and entertaining. At the same time, if you’re still watching movies on your iPhone, it is probably time to upgrade to a tablet.

Recommended Apps (for iPhone)
1. Spotify with a $10/mo subscription (always have the newest and greatest music & the ability to make new playlists on the fly)
2. Tripadvisor (City Guides!)
3. GateGuru (know all about the airport you’re in and what places are best to eat or entertain yourself)
4. Yelp! (Find the best places to eat in any city)
5. Your favorite card game

Recommendations for Tablet (iPad)
1. Bring your five favorite movies
2. Bring your two favorite TV shows

7. Buy good headphones and keep a backup

This takes a long time for a lot of people to learn but there is nothing worst than watching a movie on your iPad and then having one earbud go dead. This launches most people into a long battle of twisting the connection and trying to align wires in the manner that will just get them through the flight. Don’t be that person. Number one, a good pair of headphones will last easily their value in the multiple sets of headphones one will go through in a cheaper set e.g. Bose MIE2i comes with a one year warranty for $130 which is equal to ~4 Apple Earbud purchases (and they sound better). Also noise canceling headsets are great for quieting noisy planes (so you don’t have to blast your headphones to drown out engines) and airports.

Recommendations for headphones
1. Bose MIE2i (with iPhone mic. Great for on the run conference calls and not having to reach into your pocket for volume and/or starting and stopping music or movies)
2. Bose QC3 (personal favorites but if one prefers over ear instead of on-ear check out Bose QC15′s)

6. Always have two forms of identity (in separate places)

Simple, keep a passport with you as well as your license. Or some other form of ID that can get you around places that require ID and on planes.

5. Travel clothes are versatile and rugged

This is probably a recommendation more for the men than the ladies as I do not pretend to know how women should pack clothes. For guys though, aim to bring clothes that are multi-purpose. If you bring a coat, bring a coat that you feel comfortable wearing casually and formally as this reduces the amount necessary for packing. If you are bringing casual shoes, try to bring casual shoes you can work out in. Also, bare in mind that these clothes are going to get beat up, pack clothing items that you are ok with this happening. Finally, be prepared for several weather conditions.

Recommendations:
1. Pack for everyday specifically plus one extra day
2. Bring formal, casual, and workout clothes (and try to cross-over)
3. Be prepared for multiple weather conditions (personal preference I keep a Loki jacket which has hidden integrated mittens and facemask for cold weather)

4. Sign up for rewards programs

Not signing up for rewards programs is a rookie mistake that is made all together too often, do not make this mistake. Signing up for member rewards programs is simple, easy, and comes with an amazing number of perks. Don’t stand in line at Hertz, get free breakfast and water at Hiltons, free upgrades on airlines, etc, etc, etc. Do not make this mistake, it saves you time, money and a ton of frustration.

Some of the main ones:
1. Hilton Honors
2. Marriott Rewards
3. Starwood Preferred
4. Hertz Gold
5. Enterprise Plus
6. National Emerald Club
7. United Airlines Mileage Plus
8. American Airlines AAdvantage
9. Delta Airlines Skymiles
10. Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards

3. Keep it clean (WASH YOUR HANDS!)

Airports, airplanes, hotel rooms, and rental cars are filthy. They are, it’s gross, so keep it clean! Wash your hands before you eat, keep sanitizer on you. Keep clorox bleach wipes with you, for areas you will be touching often (*Protip, remote controls and telephones in hotel rooms are rarely, if ever cleaned, bring some portable Clorox bleach wipes to wipe them down).

Recommendations
1. Clorox Bleach Wipes travel pack
2. Purell Sanitizing Wipes (recommended over the liquid due to travel restrictions)
3. Wet Ones (nice hand wipes)
4. Toothbrush Sanitizer

2. Keep it light!

Thus far we’ve listed a number of things to bring along when travelling. This adds a bigger load of things to have at all times. This isn’t necessarily the best idea when it comes to travel though, instead the goal is to keep it light! Reduce strain wherever possible. Much of this comes down to intelligent packing and the right kind of luggage. For those of us in the infosec space we typically will have computing equipment with us at all times. Heed these words of advice DO NOT TRAVEL WITH SINGLE SHOULDER COMPUTER BAGS there are too many people who have had long lasting shoulder injuries to ignore this. Use a two shoulder backpack and if necessary pack a single shoulder bag strictly for style. Do not use the bag you got at a conference, first of all, they are 90% not a good backpack. Also they are 100% of the time really dorky. In terms of luggage, think four wheels. This drastically reduces the amount of strain for larger suitcases.

Recommendations
1. Timbuk2 Q Laptop Backpack (I love my Timbuk2 bag)
2. Samsonite Spinner (Really any spinner case will do)

1. Enjoy yourself

This is the one most people probably forget, have fun! There is a whole world out there to be seen, when you’re travelling, try to see it! Make the best of all your time, if you are 100000% working while you travel, try to work from places that are different and interesting, maybe the coffee shops on site. If you are strictly airport to client site, try to enjoy the different airport restaurants you get to eat at. The point is, travelling can be tough, but if you make your work travel a mini vacation every time it is much more bearable.

Leave a comment