What to Do If Your Devices Are Taken at the Border

Travelling this winter? Be aware that border agents can seize your devices. Here’s what you can do about it.

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No matter which way you are crossing the border, Canadian Border Services Agency and U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials have the right to stop and search you, ask that you hand over your electronic devices and request your passwords to unlock them.

Failure to comply with these demands could result in denied entry into the country, fines or even imprisonment.

If you are asked by an officer to provide your corporate device and password at a border crossing, take these steps:

  • Ask the reason why you are being searched.
  • Advise the border official that there may be sensitive and confidential company information on the device, and ask that it be treated appropriately.
  • Immediately report searches of your corporate device to your company’s Privacy Officer – along with information about what was accessed – after the search has been concluded.

Be prepared

If you are travelling with a corporate device, it is imperative that you properly secure any information that is sensitive or confidential prior to departing.

You are also encouraged to:

  • Never lose sight of your device to protect it from loss or theft.
  • Ensure your device is password protected.
  • Log off any applications you’re not using in case your device gets stolen or lost.
  • Be cautious of public Wi-Fi hotspots, and turn off the wireless and Bluetooth functions if they are not in use.

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    Do a digital cleaning

    Just like you would clean your house, so too do you need to clean your computers and mobile devices. Over time, technology can get cluttered – and discarded files, potentially undiagnosed viruses and unused applications can have dire consequences, especially if cyber hackers get into your system. Fortunately, a “digital cleaning” can help get that computer clutter under control. Here are a few simple tips to better protect your work and personal devices against cyber security threats.
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    Update, update, update

    Make sure anything you connect to the Internet has up-to-date software and apps to reduce your risk of contracting malware. While cyber security software will notify you of any potential viruses, you still usually need to update programs yourself.
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    Delete idle accounts

    If you have any online accounts you no longer use – including email, social networking or online shopping – go back and delete them, especially if they share login information with some of your other accounts or if your user profile contains any personal details.
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    Remove inappropriate software

    Take a look at the non-corporate applications and programs you have installed on your devices – do you use them? Deleting unused or dated third-party apps and programs helps reduce the number of weak points that could be exploited by malicious online forces.
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    Take out the trash

    Just because it’s easier to store them, doesn’t mean you should treat digital files differently than paper ones. Take some time to thoroughly review them and get rid of anything you don’t need. Empty your trash or recycle bin to ensure they’re gone – the less readily available personal information you store, the less personal information someone could have access to.
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    Sweep your storage

    It’s not just your computers, tablets and phones – remember to clean up any external storage like flash drives or external hard drives and keep them updated.

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