Customs and the Cloud

In an effort to protect confidential company information from snooping border and customs agents, more companies appear to be issuing “snoop-proof” laptops, iPads and cell phones to personnel traveling outside the United States. These devices have minimal software and are configured to work primarily with cloud-based applications and storage approved by the company.

Typically the devices are customized to (1) discourage or prevent saving information to the hard drive, (2) disable password saving for browser-based applications and storage, (3) automatically delete caches, browser history, cookies and other information that might contain company information, and (4) use two-factor authentication to access cloud-based resources. This way, companies are less concerned if the device is seized by border agents because no company information actually resides on the device. As cloud-based products and services become more robust and secure, and as company IT departments become more comfortable with them (and less comfortable with border agent seizures), expect to see an increasing number of international travelers carrying these cloud-friendly devices.