Information Security

ATM Skimmers

Automated teller machines (ATMs) are commonly the first stop a traveler must make after arriving at an overseas destination, dispensing the local currency necessary for taxis, restaurants, and other business transactions. While these machines are vital to foreign travel, they are also highly exploited. Criminals view ATMs as an easy, unattended, and profitable target.

  • Only use an ATM located inside of a bank branch or hotel lobby rather than one on the street.
  • Plan ahead – try to use an ATM when the bank is open. 
  • Be aware of the ATM’s surroundings.
  • Be cautious accepting help from strangers when using an ATM. It is advised to only let a bank employee assist you if you have issues with the ATM. 
  • Do not use ATM machines with possible signs of tampering.
  • Try to identify if the machine has items that may have been installed over or around the pin pad.
  • When you approach the ATM, lightly pull the card slot. Signs of tampering include loose or detached slot, or the presence of double-sided tape.  A YouTube user recently uploaded a video of his discovery of a skimmer on an ATM in Vienna. If you find a skimmer on an ATM, notify authorities. 
  • If the card is retained in an ATM, press “Cancel” to terminate the operation and contact the bank immediately. 
  • Be vigilant. Watch your bank activity and immediately report any suspicious activity and fraudulent transactions. 
  • When using an ATM, cover the pin pad with your hand while entering your information. This prevents anyone nearby from watching you, and helps with hiding your information from a skimmer camera. 
  • Check your account statements regularly. It is recommended to check them once a day, at least. 

Cyber Security

Extra consideration must be taken with technology when traveling outside the United States. Concerns range from basic theft of belongings to targeting of data used by academics. It is important to prepare properly and use appropriate safeguards while traveling.

  • Make sure your laptop is up-to-date with all operating systems and antivirus software updates.
  • Back up your data before traveling.
  • Securely delete personal data and university-sensitive and restricted data.
  • Be mindful of what you are posting on social media while abroad and never assume privacy in other countries. 
  • Turn off file and print sharing to avoid unauthorized access to your files. Disable automatic connections to open Wifi networks.
  • Assume that any activity on your device, especially on the Internet, will be intercepted. Be especially mindful of any security warnings from web browsers and applications.
  • Turn off your electronics when they are not in use. Do not leave them in sleep mode.
  • Never use shared devices, such as public computers in Internet cafes, for anything that requires entry of any password.
  • Only connect to secure wireless networks, like what might be provided in a hotel.
  • Make sure you have the contact information for the UT Austin Information Security Office
  • When returning home, discontinue use of devices and change all passwords used abroad.