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In addition to taking the necessary steps to ensure your personal safety while traveling abroad, you should review and follow Harvard University’s guidelines on data security, and other useful tips on protecting your computer and your data.

University Data Classification Table

High Risk Confidential
Research Data
Level 4
Research Data
Level 3
Research Data
Level 2
Research Data
Level 1
Information designated as
high risk under University
Information that, if disclosed, could cause material harm
to persons or the University
or risk of legal liability.
Lower risk confidential information which Harvard
has chosen to restrict.
Public information.
Examples:* Examples:* Examples:* Examples:*
Name plus one or more
of below:

  • Social Security number
  • Driver’s license number
    or state-issued identification card number
  • Financial account,
    credit or debit card number
  • Identifiable Research Subject Data
  • Biometric identifier
  • Designated institutional information
  • Donor, development or planning information
  • Non-directory student information
  • Limited research data
  • School or self designated intellectual property
  • University ID numbers with or without name
  • Results of research where confidentiality was promised but is not required
  • Published or widely available information about Harvard
  • University course catalogs
  • Campus maps
  • Employment postings
  • De-identified research data
* Subject to IRB requirements and third-party contractual agreements (e.g., data use agreements)

Harvard University Best Practices for Data Security During International Travel

The chart above provides guidance on the relative sensitivity of different types of data. You should consider the kinds of data you have stored on cell phones, computers, and other electronic devices that you are traveling with and plan for the protection of that data using the best practices listed below.

High Risk Confidential

  • Do not store on your local hard disk or portable device.
  • Consult with Matthew Baumert, HLS Security Officer, if you are working with HRCI in any way.
  • Review remote access options with Matthew Baumert, HLS Security Officer.

Confidential and Internal Confidential

  • Ensure appropriate controls are in place to protect your information
  • Use a secure method to transmit your information.
  • Secure hardcopy records.
  • Have a legitimate Harvard business use for your data.


  • Use strong non-shared passwords.
  • Change passwords if you suspect compromise.
  • Do not store HRCI on your computer.
  • Securely dispose of Harvard information per regulatory requirements and University policy.

For Questions and Consultation

Please contact Matthew Baumert, HLS Security Officer (

Useful Links

Country-specific entry and exit information, US State Department: that://

US Customs and Border Protection policies and tips (mostly for re-entry to the United States)

Standards for the protection of personal data of state residents, Commonwealth of Massachusetts

Articles on data security from around the web

Data Protection While Traveling – Tired of I.T.!

Tips on IT Security While Traveling- Montana State University – Northern

Top 10 Tips to Protect Your Laptop and Data While Traveling- Consumer Traveler

How to Keep Your Data Safe While Traveling- WorkAwesome

Don’t Take a Vacation from Internet Security- LA Times

Traveling Abroad with Technology- Inside Counsel