Ask HN: How would you travel on an airline with your life's data and devices?

55 points by walrus_pen 18 days ago

I am moving to a new country and it will require travelling by plane with all of my possessions. That includes many laptops, Raspberry Pis, routers, hard drives, USB drives, and SD cards. I think that this may firstly look suspicious, and secondly I am concerned about something being implanted on any one of the devices or drives if they are ever out of my sight, or being "asked" if they can be viewed (i.e. being compelled to give in to plugging in the drives).

What would you do? Encrypt all the drives? Transfer almost two terabytes to encrypted cloud storage (which provider?)? What about the laptops (I have 4, one Android tablet, two iPads, a current and old phone)?

I could ship these in the post ahead of time. Though I don't think if it's any safer.

qazxcvbnmlp 17 days ago

I work for an airline. Some points.

1. Don’t check anything you wouldn’t be ok loosing. (Raspberry PI can be replaced, photos cannot)

2. People travel with weird stuff all the time and no one cares or things twice. (USA) not sure how this applies internationally. Generally how suspicions you look is proportional to how much flack you receive. So if you feel and act normal, likely no one will care.

3. A locked hard case like a pelican case that fits within the carry-on size requirements and is well used will look a lot less suspicious than a bunch of laptops in a backpack.

4. People move all the time. For you it’s a big event, but for the airport / airline staff, someone traveling with all their possessions because they are moving is a routine occurrence.

5. At customs, be prepared to explain (honestly and truthfully) why you have lots of electronics. I am moving here and here is my documents, by the way I am a software developer, is a perfectly valid reason.

The above advice applies for lawful travel. You are on your own if you’re trying to hide something.

  • JamesianP 17 days ago

    Sometimes the plane will be too full and you'll get required to check your overhead bag. So you can't count on it for fragile/valuable stuff. In my case I bring a cloth handbag stuffed in there so I can take out the electronics and carry it as a personal item. I've had to use it a couple times.

    • qazxcvbnmlp 17 days ago

      Yeah… I’ve been the person that has to tell (metaphorical)you that I am checking your bag.

      It really makes our job easier when you have a backup plan for your electronics because it avoids a lot of conflict. Also.. we totally understand it sucks when we take your bag to check it.

      • em-bee 16 days ago

        i am always wondering how that would play out for me because if i remove the valuable stuff, there is nothing left to check in.

        and i always come with two bags. one is laptops and the other is a musical instrument. i would not allow you to check in either.

        • qazxcvbnmlp 15 days ago

          If you want to be assured space in carry on:

          1. Double check the rules before you go and verify everything you are taking is allowed.

          2. Purchase some sort of ticket that has priority boarding (also make sure you are at the gate enough time ahead to take advantage of it). First / premium economy.

          3. If we run out of space and you must check something. You may be upset: If you argue, and escalate the situation- it probably won’t convince us of anything, we will just call the police and have you removed from the flight. 99.9% of the customer services agent (and their supervisors) job is defined by clear procedures that they have no control over.

  • danwee 17 days ago

    > 3. A locked hard case like a pelican case that fits within the carry-on size requirements and is well used will look a lot less suspicious than a bunch of laptops in a backpack.

    Interesting. Why is that? I have a personal laptop, a work laptop and a very old laptop that I play with (e.g., changing ram, adapting ports, multiple operating systems, etc.) If I ever move to another country I would need to pack my 3 laptops with me in my backpack. Would that look suspicious?

    • qazxcvbnmlp 17 days ago

      I went back and forth on writing this point. I think the nuance missed in the original point, is that professional people that travel with work stuff like to take their equipment in pelican cases. So that looks less suspicious than backpack, but both are probably ok.

  • throwaway729562 17 days ago

    > Generally how suspicions you look is proportional to how much flack you receive.

    Definitely come with a cleanly shaved face. People with long beard are hassled much more often at US borders/airports for some reason.

    (observed even with my own experience from about 100 US visits)

    • hansvm 17 days ago

      There's a bit of a cultural stigma against most beard styles for some reason. Back when I was delivering pizza I found that it made a $0.50 difference in the average tip to be clean shaven.

    • tomcam 16 days ago

      It’s not your beard, it’s their dyslexia. They are confusing you with throwaway725962, who is on the terrorist watchlist.

  • tharkun__ 17 days ago

    I've actually done this, albeit with less stuff overall, multiple times.

    Here's my experience and for the OP and regarding your points, that I think are very valid.

    1. I had all my data on mirrored RAID and so I just had half my drives in the checked baggage and took the other half into my carry-on. FWIW, if you have 2TB, that's not a lot. I don't know how old your drives are but at current hard drive size I bet you only have one 2TB drive there if you're not already running a RAID, else two. I had four drives total. Someone might ask if you travel with 20 drives ;) Since "a truckload of tapes" has a much higher bandwidth than any internet connection, even today, I bet there's a lot more travel with "hardware" than one might think. Like you say, this applies to lawful travel.

    2. Nobody cared. I wasn't asked about my carry-on at all. We had multiple laptops and a few hard drives, CDs, USB keys, CPU, RAM. I never got a "citation" about the checked baggage either. I would say that unfortunately here we do have to mention "racial profiling" i.e. YMMV depending on where exactly you travel and whether you're a visible minority in any of the checkpoints you go through.

    3. I guess it depends on the exact make up and volume. Do you have 10 SD cards? Nobody cares, people have lots of devices that use these suckers. DSLR Camera? It's normal to have at least like 4 SD cards just for that. FWIW, a few times I had the CPU and RAM in my laptop bag but decided I'd buy a new case and motherboard at the new location for example.

    4. This! Even the time when we shipped everything, because the container would take "forever" vs. us flying, CPU, RAM and hard drives still went with us, sold the motherboard and bought a new one on arrival and ran it all "open air" until the server case arrived a few weeks later by shipping container. Nobody blinked an eye anywhere.

    5. I think this can't be overstated. Be nice. Be courteous. Be honest. For the above tech stuff we were never asked. I bet they see this all the time in their scanner. But we have been pulled aside to open one of our carry-ons because they couldn't figure out what was in there via the x-ray scanner. So we had to explain to them why it was full of old match box cars, playmobil and Lego!

    Anecdote: I have been asked to boot a laptop I was carrying once. That was when we were visiting the parliament in Ottawa. I don't remember why I had the laptop with me, probably because I didn't want to leave it in a cheap motel lol! I never thought about it, until they told me to boot it up and I got really concerned, because it had no Windows on it, just Linux and I didn't have graphical boot (i.e. no nice logo or anything) and it booted straight to command line login. No issues. You might have a different experience visiting the US capitol ;)

    • ericpauley 17 days ago

      Re: booting laptop: my understanding here is that they usually just want to see that it is a physically functional device, and don't really care what it's running.

      • thinkmcfly 17 days ago

        5 easy tricks to get Linux running on your bomb


saltcured 17 days ago

Your question leads with infosec concerns, but you may also want to think about customs or import regulations at your destination. You seem to already think it appears excessive as a typical "personal use" travel package. Would a customs official think the same thing...?

So, you might find better suggestions by looking to immigrant/expat community resources for the destination country. You might learn of particular paperwork or least-friction options to ship the majority of it and avoid surprise seizure or customs duties, etc.

Also, some combination of encryption and online backups does sound like a good idea to me, unless of course the countries involved have nasty restrictions on encryption tools. Leaving a copy with a trusted friend or relative in your origin country can also give you a recovery plan. If all else fails, you can work with them to arrange an online transfer in the future, or just wait and get another copy the next time you visit your original country.

You also might want to remove personal data from devices before shipping them, and plan a factory-reset/wipe procedure when you receive them on the other end if it gives you peace of mind.

devoutsalsa 17 days ago

I travel around with two MacBook Pros, two smartphones, and a PS4. All of this fits in my backpack, and it’s a mild pain to go through airport security, but it’s not too bad.

What I’d do is ask yourself which of these things you REALLY need and take those in a carry on. Putting laptops in checked luggage may be difficult, as they don’t like lithium ion batteries because of the risk of fire in the luggage compartment. Shipping used electronics is risky, probably expensive, and perhaps impossible.

It all depends on how customs works. For example, shipping a laptop to Mexico with an import partner is quite difficult, and Indonesia may not allow it at all. Shipping to a Western European country may require paying a lot in import duties.

What I’d do if I were you I’d this. Put everything you can carry into one backpack. Put the stuff you could afford to lose in a carry on suitcase, which they could potentially make you check if overhead luggage is full (pack with some padding, like put things between your clothes or whatever). Try carrying it through and see what happens. They may not stop you, and if they do, just be prepared to pay a fee or abandon your equipment.

Another option could be just making two trips, or paying someone to fly with you.

You can encrypt drives if you want, but that could be a pain if they ask you to turn in the equipment. That happens. Maybe just backup the stuff you need and wipe the drives if you’re really concerned about security.

Good luck!

  • devilbunny 17 days ago

    My standard travel carryon when I'm with my wife has a laptop, an iPad, two Kindles, a big bag of chargers (helpful at security - you can pull it out and let them re-run the main bag, and they only have to physically inspect the chargers, which will turn out to be a boring pile of wires), two good-capacity batteries, two spare cell phones (neither of us can afford to have cell phone outages lasting more than a few hours), noise-cancelling headphones, and a digital camera or two. She carries her own laptop, headphones, and iPad because otherwise my shoulder will fall off.

    In Germany, a security officer once pulled me aside and said "so... many... electronics..." and I politely pulled them all out and showed them. Once they realized that I just travel heavy, it was nothing.

    It's not what I would take to China on business (that would be a cheap Android phone with a prepaid SIM that would be discarded entirely on return), but I've taken it to Kenya and Tanzania, the Caribbean, Western and Central Europe, Canada, and Mexico. If none of them batted an eye at that for a trip of two weeks or less, I don't imagine they will care much if you're actually moving.

chrisseaton 18 days ago

> almost two terabytes

Stick it on a little encrypted USB drive and put it in your pocket? Maybe with a couple of spare drives in your checked luggage, and post one as well. Nobody will care. Wipe the devices if you really want. Not the huge problem you think it is.

benlivengood 18 days ago

Backblaze B2 is $5/TB-month. It only takes me about a month to upload 2TB at crappy ~20mbps cable upstream.

Movers moved the physical servers and hard disks about 9 years ago when I moved; they all spun up just fine at the other end.

It sounds more convenient to insure(!) and ship most of the hardware once the data on them is backed up.

You're likely not going to be able to take multiple laptops with LiIon batteries on a plane, baggage or carry-on. EDIT: I have flown with two laptops in the same carry-on without problems, so it probably depends on exactly how many you need to bring.

  • mwint 17 days ago

    I’ve flown with 4 laptops in a carry on. No one really cares.

murphyslab 18 days ago

Depends on what country you're moving to. But in my experience, moving from Canada to Europe and back, it's not seen as "weird" travelling with computer stuff. My suitcase even had a PC monitor and motherboard tucked in with my shirts and slacks.

For simplicity, it's probably cheaper and easier to send some peripherals to the Sally Ann or Goodwill and replace it in the new locale.

As for the data, 2 TB isn't that much these days. It's just a small portable drive and no one will bat an eye. Photos from my DSLR alone take up more space than that!

Oxidation 17 days ago

> something being implanted on any one of the devices or drives

This really depends on your threat model. If you're of interest, they don't need to do this at the airport, when a real person of interest is likely most alert to tampering.

If you're not of interest, they're not going to bug every random traveler with a hard drive using state-level technology and risk giving the game away by being found out by a perspicacious security researcher one day.

  • jstarfish 17 days ago

    > If you're of interest, they don't need to do this at the airport, when a real person of interest is likely most alert to tampering.

    After the stress of travel and clearing customs, the usual next steps are abandoning all luggage in your hotel room and going out for food.

    There's a reason some countries insist on knowing your full itinerary and/or all of the hotels you intend to stay at...

mitchellpkt 18 days ago

Regardless of what equipment you do or don't travel with, I would recommend backing up up anything important to storage that won't be carried on your person. Even if flying goes smoothly, equipment could still be lost / stolen / damaged at other stages of the trip.

kylehotchkiss 17 days ago

I’ve lived abroad a few years and had to move all my devices quite a few times.

* invest in actual end to end encrypted cloud storage like tresorit. Keep copies of everything important there. Log out when traveling. Encrypted drives could compel password sharing if they have a problem with you.

* delete all work projects from all devices. Log out of work emails. Travel mode on 1Password etc.

* don’t actually delete everything off of every device, that’d be a flag

* delete all the sensitive photos off your phone. Photos of anything financial, passport/visa scans. Personal photos etc.

* raspberry pi can go in checked luggage. Try to attach some product packaging, don’t pack a ton of those little connector wires as that invites an inspection

* if you want to ship, UPS is pretty decent and fully owns their international ops better than other couriers. FedEx contracts out too much. I’d trust UPS to go through my boxes, but not FedEx. And local mail companies use gvmt customs clearances and just ship on passenger planes. More likely to open and inspect.

jstarfish 17 days ago

Having moved cross-country recently, this proved to be a fool's errand. If it doesn't fit in your carry-on, leave it behind.

I paid a lot of money to have a bunch of junk shipped, and all I received was a pile of twisted metal-- it was all destroyed in transit. Trying to salvage the data from the hard drives cost me hundreds of hours, was only partially successful, and the only aspects of the mess you get reimbursed for are shipping cost and retail value of old computers (do you have all of the receipts/invoices for them?). You don't get paid for your time or grief.

The only country I've ever seen that takes issue with travelers carrying too many <item_type> is Japan, but the more of anything you have, the more opportunity for any single piece to get lost along the way. Transfer important data to two encrypted xTB-sized personal drives and toss those in your carry-on. You are your own courier.

Make peace with the fact that all of your gear is disposable when you get on that plane.

If you insist on shipping...

* Bring copies of your original purchase receipts/invoices for items shipped with you on the plane. You will not be able to substantiate any loss/damage claim if the documents you need to prove losses were themselves lost or destroyed.

* You can increase handling diligence by adding a gun to the parcel and following legal firearms-shipping procedures. Carriers attract a lot of heat when they lose guns. This may or may not be an option for you, and will limit your carrier options to FedEx (and maybe DHL?).

* Remove all hard drives from their chassis. (This one, I overlooked, and being the only part I actually cared about it cost me dearly.)

* Have your stuff packaged by a UPS/eq. Store. DO NOT do it yourself, even though you would do a better job of it-- when you need to make a damage claim against the carrier, your claim will ALWAYS be denied on account of improper packaging if you're the one who packed it.

* Some insurance riders will require signature confirmation at delivery. When you sign for it, write "DAMAGED" above your signature-- whether or not there's anything apparently wrong with the package. Not all damage is immediately obvious, the terms for reporting concealed damage are easily faulted, and signing that pad with only your name affirms you received the package intact-- and guarantees any subsequent damage claim will be denied.

friend_and_foe 17 days ago

Encrypting all the drives will not work because the authorities in the new country more than likely have the leeway to "kindly request" that you unencrypt the data for them. I don't need to know the country to know there is a high likelihood that this is true.

Your best bet is to back up all the data from all of them onto one large hard drive, encrypt that, wipe everything and travel with everything but the hard drive. Then let them poke around whatever they want. Maybe keep some stuff like family photos and whatever just so that it doesnt look like you wiped everything before leaving.

If you travel with that many drives you're likely to gather some suspicion, so they're likely to want to poke around.

As far as getting the data to you, you could have a friend or family member mail the drive to you, or have it hooked up to an internet connected FTP server, or even an open VPN or wireguard tunnel to the network it's on with local only access.

  • Rygian 17 days ago

    Encryption with veracrypt gives you a second hidden volume accessible over an alternate password, and plausible deniability as to whether it exists.

    • friend_and_foe 17 days ago

      Yeah I'm aware, but I think sensitive data is best transferred over a less tangible channel. Moving the hardware with the data on it through a channel that necessarily gives custody of it to authorities for any duration is a risky proposition even with tools like veracrypt. All someone has to do is notice a discrepancy between the size on the label and the size showing on disk. The last thing you want to do is give authorities an excuse to hook the proverbial car battery up to your proverbial balls.

ews 17 days ago

I've done this multiple time across several countries, I usually upload my data to the cloud before the trip, just in case of lost/seizure. For very sensitive data (let's say crypto keys), you create multiple offline copies, leave them on the origin country and make sure they are destroyed when arriving to the new place.

mysterydip 18 days ago

I would get something like a Pelican case, get a lock for it, and ship that. Not perfect but much more likely to make it in one piece. Before that, I would take my most critical data and back it up encrypted in a cloud service or take it on a portable device that stays on my person.

  • mr_person 18 days ago

    Or place the thing in overhead. I did exactly this with several TB of data when I emigrated a while back.

    You can generally find good options at camera shops.

martinflack 18 days ago

This is highly dependent on the two countries in question, your passport(s) / visas, and your day job.

prepend 17 days ago

I had to do something similar and shipped everything with a slow method that took about 7 days. I knew the address where I would be staying and shipped with registration and insurance. I also shipped a lot of books and comics and physical media.

Then I just carried a single laptop and a small drive that wasn’t found by airport inspectors with about 10gb of important data.

This was before cheap cloud storage was available and if it was, I’d put a copy there as well.

aborsy 17 days ago

2TB is an NVMe. You can even put it in your wallet, or better in your backpack. A copy also to an online back up service. Leave a third copy behind, to be destroyed once confirmed on the other side. If you have someone in destination, you can send the data a priori.

There are rugged SSDs, but they are expensive and may not survive luggage handling.

On airport, there is a chance that you are asked about the encryption password, especially in US.

listenallyall 17 days ago

Do you have any family in your current country? I would backup everything to external hard drives, and leave multiple copies back at home with trusted family members. You can encrypt the drives if you don't entirely trust these people.

If your travel goes smoothly, no problem, if not, someone can ship you one of the drives, or perhaps hook it up to their own computer or NAS and set up a downlink, or send to Backblaze, etc.

shortcake27 17 days ago

When crossing borders, I store all my data encrypted in the cloud and wipe the device. Many countries can request full access to your devices, and non-compliance can result in denied entry or possibly even arrest. Your devices may get confiscated.

In Australia for example:

From memory if they gain access to the data they retain it for something ridiculous like 15 years, and are exempt from all data protection/privacy laws.

Even though the risk is small, having all my data leaked like this is unacceptable.

Another rule is that if my devices are taken out of my sight, I won’t use them any more; I’ll sell them and buy new devices. You don’t know what exploits are out there and again it just isn’t worth the risk.

I’d ask if you really need multiple laptops? You’re obviously concerned about this, so minimising your attack surface seems like something worth investigating.

1attice 17 days ago

Planning this myself.

I use a Pelican 1495 briefcase and I carry it with me at all times. It's waterproof and padded and terribly strong. It locks (non TSA approved, so carryon only!) with a passcode. I carry a small laptop and a desktop replacement in this case, along with some paper, a mouse, a bluetooth keyboard, two chargers, a bag of adapters, and a partridge in a pear tree.

fragmede 18 days ago

I understand that your data is irreplaceable, but in terms of size, 2 TB isn't all that much these days. I would recommend you upload it all to just to have a cloud backup anyway. Even if you weren't moving, if your house got destroyed (fire/earthquake/whatever), I'd hate for your data to get lost.

cookiengineer 17 days ago

Honestly if your data is this much worth to you, it might make sense to rent a VPS temporarily (with a big storage/SSD), and to get e.g. a 4TB SSD as an external drive as a redundancy.

Encrypt via LUKS to protect your data. Even if TSA doesn't snoop on you, others might if you lose the drive.

When moving in the past, I sent myself packages in advance but in some countries the pickup time is very limited (e.g. Germany has 6 work days pickup time), which could lead to problems if you are stuck at customs for whatever reasons.

Usually TSA is mostly worried about batteries, so if you have 4 devices with the batteries removed, it shouldn't be a problem.

Do you have a storage rental service in your city? Sometimes it's possible to send them packages with your belongings if you ask nicely.

ankaAr 16 days ago

Pelican case with the hardware. Your carry on or backpack with the data.

Think about journalists and photographers, they do that every day (my uncle was a cameramen). Ask to them.

Call to the embassy or the airport security, they are not always a bunch of jerks.

Be honest at customs, depend on the country they could want to access the data (even when they just see the desktop or just some pictures).

Don't check anything that you are not ok loosing it..

I travelled with some cameras, notebooks, tablets, hard drives using that (pelican with some padlocks, 2 different brands and systems on each lock.., I really hate airports, they stole my Adventure Time tag) and an Oggio renegade backpack.

eternityforest 17 days ago

Not exactly the most eco friendly option, but if it's getting close to upgrade time anyway, can you consolidate any of it? Just sell most of it and get less bulky replacements? Do you need multiple laptops or will VMs do plus maybe 1 backup laptop?

I think I would either want to have a cloud backup of everything, or at least 2 copies, 1 by plane and 1 by mail. Traveling with irreplaceable data seems pretty scary.

Then again I would be much more worried about something getting lost than any security concerns.

I personally don't encrypt drives other than a few specific folders, but I assume that most HN readers would want to.

em-bee 16 days ago

i just did that. with kids, 6 laptops (two small ones and two dead ones, that i hope to still revive somehow) several harddisks. (5TB data in triplicate (and a 4th copy on cloud storage)). security checks on three airports. they checked, but it was all routine, not a hint that this could be suspicious. on one airport the did that explosive trace detection by touching every piece of equipment and into some pouches, but that too was all professional.

3 out of the 6 suitcases were flagged for manual inspection, but passed after a quick look after confirming that the things they saw on the scan were fine after all.

in there i had a full desktop without harddisks (which were in the carry-on) and several other harddisks in a stack which in one scan did show up as a black square causing a search of that area of the suitcase because the person there didn't initially think that the disks could be the cause. once we confirmed that it must have been the disks (i guess if you pile up enough of them they do show up dark) it was given a pass.

the nightmare started when none of the checked luggage was showing up at the destination. confirming that i was right to remove and back up the disks. (but after two days i got the call that the luggage has arrived, it has just missed the last transfer)

Ptchd 18 days ago

Host it somewhere encrypted (GPG) and download it when you get to destination?

  • CogitoCogito 17 days ago

    Yeah with Linux commands easiest might be:

    1. Tar up with `tar c folder | pigz -z > folder.tar.gz`

    2. Encrypt with `gpg -c folder.tar.gz`

    3. Split into (say 1GB) files with `mkdir pieces && cd pieces && split -b1073741824 ../folder.tar.gz.gpg`

    Then just copy those files into some sort of bucket storage like GCP for Google with something like:

    gcloud alpha storage cp -R pieces gs://bucket/pieces

    That might cost like 40$ for 2TB. Above people are posting about much cheaper storage costs. I guess at that point you don't have to worry really since the files are encrypted you can host them wherever.

    Of course you have the question of how to transport the machines. I.e. should they be wiped? I guess that's up to you.

plsbenice34 16 days ago

An important point: depending on the country it can be better to ship it; I mean, if there are key disclosure laws, traveling with data simply isnt an option to me. Even if its just family photos, I wouldnt want them to be copied and stored forever like they do in Australia/USA

mr_toad 17 days ago

You might want to look into sending the items as freight. Either with an airline or a freight company. You can get insurance, tracking, you can package the goods securely and they have a better chance of arriving intact. Downside is that you’ll have to drop off and pick up the goods at a depot.

Canada 17 days ago

If there is anyone you can trust in the country you are leaving then buy enough drives to make a copy of your stuff and leave that (encrypted) copy behind.

All of the stuff you take with you should be encrpyted. If anyone were to try to look at it then you dont know how to open any of it.

quickthrower2 17 days ago

You could get 2TB onto BackBlaze or iDrive fairly cheaply. Maybe use both (one backup service backing up the other!).

(If paranoid, encrypt it yourself before backing up. But if you lose the key you lose all the data)

Wipe all devices before going. Take a dumb phone for phone calls.

Raed667 18 days ago

For the data: you can back everything up on an encrypted SSD and mail it to your destination.

dusted 17 days ago

I've travelled with a 20 tib nas as hand luggage.. customs saw it and asked what it was, I explained it was a big external harddrive, I popped out a few drives for them to see, then was let through

brudgers 18 days ago

I would think along these lines:

  • walrus_pen 18 days ago

    Relevant but not sure how it's helpful. I should just give up?

    • benlivengood 18 days ago

      You should be as low-profile of a traveler as possible to avoid getting investigated in the first place. Fly with one laptop, one external storage drive, and other normal personal things.

      Check on customs laws to be sure that shipping or carrying a lot of electronics with you is legal and pay any import duties that might be necessary. I imagine moving companies have experience with this kind of international move and also raise absolutely no suspicion about random electronics that are part of a permanent move to a new location.

      • dzhiurgis 17 days ago

        Ironically something like 2TB iPad or iPhone would be least sus and likely most secure

        Bro is time travelling with these questions tho

    • brudgers 17 days ago

      My advice would be to assume that you are already compromised or that nobody cares about the terabytes you have or that a well motivated adversary will be sufficiently resourced to circumvent whatever you do.

      But the caveat I have no knowledge whether your concerns are practical or theoretical. No knowledge of what is actually at stake. Is it state secrets, a few billion BTC, or cat photos.

MattGaiser 17 days ago

I have travelled with 4 laptops and 2 tablets before, so no issues there.

  • Ptchd 17 days ago

    Sometimes they care and sometimes they don't... do you want to have to cancel your trip because on that day they decide to ask for your laptops to be able to get in the plane?

dontbenebby 15 days ago

Travel on an airline with your life's data and devices?

I wouldn't. Bring the devices if you must (with you, not under the plane), but the data should be put in a Veracrypt volume[0], note the SHA-256 sum, and upload it to somewhere secure, perhaps with a technology like SecureDrop[1]... or just stick that blob in a zip file or something and park it on some random SFTP server, that might actually stick out less and thus be more secure.

If you need secure passphrases, you can bootstrap entropt by creating a mnemonic, then putting that mnemonic into a hash algorithm so you have something that would require a very targeted decryption effort but easy to remember. Other sources of seed could include things like the serial numbers on currency.

For example, I used the serial number on the last two dollar bill my deceased grandfather as salt combined with a code word set up back in the 2000s as the password to the encrypted Kali virtual machine I set during the Trump administration and tore down after the 2020 election.

In my experience, I have found that when you are trying to live that cyberpunk lifestyle (confidentiality, integrity, availability)... you can often only achieve two while interacting with an enemy.

And make no mistake: ANYONE who tries to coerce you into giving up your most intimate data without a warrant to simply travel on an airline is an enemy. The tools and techniques I taught to journalists traveling to the most oppressive regimes in the world must now be deployed by private citizens beating hasty retreats from fascist regimes the world over.

Have a safe holiday season OP, if you can. It's like the fall of the USSR at there, complete with гла́сность[2] :-)

Sincerely, Greg.

Edit: I messed up the formatting on the citations -- sorry.





aristofun 18 days ago

Unless you're some government/military official - why do you care so much? Who would ever care about gigabytes of your stuff?

And if you are a VIP — you shouldn't store that much sensitive information on you anyway.

  • walrus_pen 18 days ago

    I don't understand your sentiment. Most of the data is decades of family pictures and videos.

    • Oxidation 17 days ago

      Which is completely innocuous and, assuming you aren't anyone special, if no interest at all to anyone else. If you are someone of high enough profile that knowing who went to your birthday party is valuable intel, then your problems don't end with getting your devices through the airport.

      Reminds me of someone (maybe Preet Bharara?) who said that when posted abroad in some places, high-level officials have to have even any domestic arguments in a SCIF[1] to avoid leaking pressure points.