Slashdot is powered by your submissions, so send in your scoop


Forgot your password?
Privacy Data Storage Portables Security United States Hardware

Securing Your Notebook Against US Customs 1021

Nethemas the Great points out a piece from Bruce Schneier running in the UK's Guardian newspaper with some tips for international travelers on securing notebook computers for border crossings. A taste of the brief article: "Last month a US court ruled that border agents can search your laptop, or any other electronic device, when you're entering the country. They can take your computer and download its entire contents, or keep it for several days. ... Encrypting your entire hard drive, something you should certainly do for security in case your computer is lost or stolen, won't work here. The border agent is likely to start this whole process with a 'please type in your password.' Of course you can refuse, but the agent can search you further, detain you longer, refuse you entry into the country and otherwise ruin your day."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Securing Your Notebook Against US Customs

Comments Filter:
  • Dual Boot (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Rycross ( 836649 ) on Thursday May 15, 2008 @12:22PM (#23419286)
    Set up a Windows partition and a Linux partition, set it to boot to Windows by default, keep all your data on the Linux partition. How well would that work, I wonder.
    • Re:Dual Boot (Score:5, Informative)

      by blueg3 ( 192743 ) on Thursday May 15, 2008 @12:29PM (#23419374)
      If they choose to store the contents of your hard drive for later analysis, not at all. Nor will it protect you against minimally-clever forensics tools.

      It depends on what, in particular, you're concerned about. As far as I know, they don't currently routinely search laptops, so it'd be speculation to guess at what a routine search they don't do would miss.
      • Re:Dual Boot (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Altus ( 1034 ) on Thursday May 15, 2008 @12:41PM (#23419570) Homepage
        if your under suspicion for who you are then you are pretty well fucked. But if your just worried about a random security search and wanting to keep certain data private you only need to get past that first step because they will not spend the money to dig deeper even if they do copy your hard drive.

        if you are a known individual (person of interest) and you expect to be stopped at the border, don't carry sensitive material with you. Hell, just mail a flash drive.
      • Re:Dual Boot (Score:5, Informative)

        by Frymaster ( 171343 ) on Thursday May 15, 2008 @12:54PM (#23419832) Homepage Journal
        If they choose to store the contents of your hard drive for later analysis, not at all. Nor will it protect you against minimally-clever forensics tools.

        of course there's always deniable encryption, ie rubberhose [].

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Cajun Hell ( 725246 )

        If they choose to store the contents of your hard drive for later analysis, not at all.

        Well, it's a question of whether or not "later analysis" is something you wait in line for, or something that happens later when you're already through. As long as you get through relatively unmolested, and with your machine, it's not too bad if they later want to spend their time detecting that personal secrets might have been present, and then try to crack AES -- all on their own time while you're not waiting and mis

    • Re:Dual Boot (Score:5, Insightful)

      by ColdWetDog ( 752185 ) * on Thursday May 15, 2008 @12:30PM (#23419408) Homepage
      Likely "pretty good". It all depends on how nosy the Customs Agents want to be. The vast majority of the time, they just stare at the laptop, maybe make you boot it (but that's TSA's responsibility, really) and let you wander off. The issue is that you don't know when the Agent 1) had a bad night 2) thinks you're a smartass / druggie / on The List or 3) anything else (no probable cause here).

      If they want to clone your hard drive and disassemble it later, your secondary boot OS is going to stick out. Not that it is unusual for anyone to have more than one OS on a hard drive, but it won't be hidden. Remember, they essentially have physical control of the computer. "They" win. Unfortunately, it comes down to 1) security by obscurity or 2) nothing to hide.

      Roll up your sleeves and bend over.

    • by khasim ( 1285 ) <> on Thursday May 15, 2008 @12:32PM (#23419436)
      They can also image your drive. As Bruce says, the easiest way to avoid this is to not have your data on your laptop. Put it on something else.
    • Re:Dual Boot (Score:5, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 15, 2008 @12:38PM (#23419532)
      Works very well. I had to set this up due to being detained at the border for several hours because they didn't know linux. They keep the laptop, computer plus some external drives and let me go. Still working on getting them back, hence anonymously. Bought a new laptop after that, set up the dual-boot with short times to select something other then windows and no log-in required. Been inspected several times after that with no problems.
      • by Ollabelle ( 980205 ) on Thursday May 15, 2008 @01:25PM (#23420476)
        I heard they shipped it back to you already, through Terminal 5 of Heathrow Airport.
      • [theory, of course]
        What is this, people? Waving flags screaming "I'm hiding something!"

        If I actually had something to hide, say, key NDA-restricted docs, and I HAD to carry them on me, I wouldn't put up red flags like obvious encryption or a partition with some weird-ass hippiecommie suspicious linux install. If you want to fly below radar, you need stealth.

        First: a vanilla install of windows or macOS. Standard business apps, standard documents folder with typical usage, such as correspondence, presentations, expenses, etc.

        Second: family photos. Friends on vacation, etc. Make them more than typical: lots of them, and innocuous. If you're too straightlaced to keep personal stuff on your computer, that's suspicious too.

        Third: on a different computer, encrypt your files with decent encryption, AES or something, using strong password. Make sure the file name isn't interesting. Doesn't matter, if a professional gets the files, they'll be cracked; the point is to keep them unobserved, so this part's kind of optional.

        Fourth: mask them inside innocuous files like the photos. Transfer them to your laptop. Now you're camouflaged. Smile, respect, make eye contact, be naturally a tiny bit nervous but with nothing to hide.

        The secret to security? don't get caught.

    • by Junior J. Junior III ( 192702 ) on Thursday May 15, 2008 @12:45PM (#23419642) Homepage

      Set up a Windows partition and a Linux partition, set it to boot to Windows by default, keep all your data on the Linux partition. How well would that work, I wonder.
      Probably pretty well unless they're doing full-disk imaging, in which case the Linux partition is still in their hands when you walk away. Best thing to do is not to take a *computer* with you when you travel, but rather take a *terminal* with you (or find one), and use a secure connection to your computer, safely still at home, and then access your data, accounts, apps, etc. over that secure connection.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      Set up a Windows partition and a Linux partition, set it to boot to Windows by default, keep all your data on the Linux partition. How well would that work, I wonder.

      Better: set up dual boot, and hide lilo or grub. Have it wait for a moment between BIOS and default OS, and if you press a certain F key combination it shows the choice; otherwise it goes right into innocent, typical-seeming Windows installation.

      You'd still be subject to either having to unencrypt your real data or having the notebook confi

    • Single Boot (Score:4, Interesting)

      by rgmoore ( 133276 ) <> on Thursday May 15, 2008 @12:59PM (#23419956) Homepage

      An even better approach would be to have just a Windows partition. Then do your real work under Linux by booting from a memory stick. If you want to get really paranoid, you could keep all of your sensitive data on a separate, encrypted memory stick, camera memory card ("hidden" in your camera), phone memory card ("hidden" in your phone), etc.

      Of course, you should go ahead and do some unimportant work under Windows. Play games, surf the net (safe, unimportant web sites, only, of course), keep your golf scores, etc. That way, if somebody ever does search your laptop, it won't look like a system that's just been wiped to avoid generating any evidence.

  • by The Ultimate Fartkno ( 756456 ) on Thursday May 15, 2008 @12:24PM (#23419302)
    ...that your desktop is the Goatse guy and you have 14 videos of horse porn set to auto-play the moment your laptop gets opened. If you're going to snoop through my stuff in public, then the whole terminal is gonna get their money's worth, you fascist bully-boys.
  • TrueCrypt (Score:4, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 15, 2008 @12:26PM (#23419330)

            * Creates a virtual encrypted disk within a file and mounts it as a real disk.

            * Encrypts an entire partition or storage device such as USB flash drive or hard drive.

            * Encrypts a partition or drive where Windows is installed (pre-boot authentication).

            * Encryption is automatic, real-time (on-the-fly) and transparent.

            * Provides two levels of plausible deniability, in case an adversary forces you to reveal the password:

                1) Hidden volume (steganography â" more information may be found here).

                2) No TrueCrypt volume can be identified (volumes cannot be distinguished from random data).

            * Encryption algorithms: AES-256, Serpent, and Twofish. Mode of operation: XTS.
    • Re:TrueCrypt (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Frosty Piss ( 770223 ) on Thursday May 15, 2008 @12:47PM (#23419682)
      People here keep talking about encrypting your files. Fine, but the second the Customs Guy figures out you have encrypted content on your laptop, you can kiss it good bye. They *will* keep it. You may not see it again for several years.

      If you're going to carry stuff over the border you don't wan't The Man to look at, put it on a thumb drive and attach it to your keys.

    • Re:TrueCrypt (Score:5, Interesting)

      by trifish ( 826353 ) on Thursday May 15, 2008 @01:28PM (#23420556)
      Schneier actually mentions TrueCrypt in his article too. However, strangely, he ignored the single most important feature of TrueCrypt regarding this topic, the plausible deniability. The hidden volume [] feature is exactly designed to prevent Big Brothers from breaching your privacy.
    • (volumes cannot be distinguished from random data)

      Aye, there's the rub.

      Most files CAN be distinguished from random data. If not outright human-readable (text, XML, etc.), they start with header data which can be visually recognized with a little experience. File sizes are predictably reflective of the directory context. Browsing the rest of a file's content usually reveals non-random components.

      TrueCrypt claiming to be indistinguishable from "random data" is kinda like the hotel security guy who was checkin
    • Hidden volume

      Only on Windows. On MacOS X and Linux, this is not available, for unstated reasons.

  • by loafula ( 1080631 ) on Thursday May 15, 2008 @12:27PM (#23419348)
    Make a folder called "Terror Plans" and fill it with images of cute, cuddly kittens.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      oh hai

      i bomd ur bildings

  • Yup (Score:5, Insightful)

    by alexborges ( 313924 ) on Thursday May 15, 2008 @12:28PM (#23419370)
    I got it in my biweekly dose of Cryptogram and found it disheartening. The GOD of security says: all you can do is make sure they wont find anything that will mess you up.

    The sad thing is that citizens think this idiotic idea of checking laptops at airports serve any kind of law enforcement objective other than generalized panic and further diminishment of democratic values such as the right to privacy.

    This is your government fucking people up (and "people" can be foreigners or locals entering the country), attempting to find in informations traces of delincuent activity that, if youre a two bit moron you know you can save it anyhow, in a mostly anonymous fashion on google's, yahoo's or microsoft's servers for free, and any number of services that are available today.

    True criminals simply have huge botnets and hidden servers behind the huge pr0n/spam nets and they DO NOT carry incriminating evidence with them and EVEN IF THEY DID, how in hell is a custom's agent going to find them?

    I mean, i have a better solution than that of bruce: change your initab so initdefault is 3, make sure that that level does NOT turn on the wifi card or any networking at all, change your shell to ASH (hopefully temporarilly) and let them have the root password, who cares.... good luck, mister customs agent.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by squidfood ( 149212 )

      further diminishment of democratic values such as the right to privacy.

      I'm as libertarian free-rights paranoid as the next slashdotter (while not quite), but a healthy dose of history here. Customs, border crossings, etc. have never had anything to do with democratic values, check out all your local 17th century smuggling legends sometime. There's never been anything there to diminish.

      Picking battles, I'd concentrate on what happens internally, domestic flights, internal travel, etc. and not worry about this one so much (cue "thin end of the wedge" argument).

  • A naive suggestion (Score:5, Insightful)

    by rumith ( 983060 ) on Thursday May 15, 2008 @12:29PM (#23419378)
    1. Upload all of your data on a web host with SFTP support and lots of bandwidth.
    2. Purge your hard drive.
    3. Be politeness incarnate to the customs officer and get through fast.
    4. Once inside, use any available network at your disposal to download all of your data back.

    The downsides? You probably won't be able to work in the airplane, but is it worth it now that the Customs are being so much trouble?

  • My laptop (Score:5, Funny)

    by Z00L00K ( 682162 ) on Thursday May 15, 2008 @12:29PM (#23419380) Homepage
    Is set to boot MS-DOS by default.

    It's actually because I need to load a device management driver that overrides the BIOS data for the hard disk, but it may actually be worth it for them to try to fiddle around at the MS-DOS prompt...

  • by AmazingRuss ( 555076 ) on Thursday May 15, 2008 @12:30PM (#23419410)
    I quit flying a couple years ago after being repeatedly hassled by TSA troglodytes. Looks like I may never get to fly again. Maybe if enough of us stop flying, the airline industry will set its lobbyists to get this fixed. Chances are slim though. Why lobby to get your customers back when you can just lobby for handouts?
  • Yes it will work. (Score:5, Informative)

    by Bobb Sledd ( 307434 ) on Thursday May 15, 2008 @12:31PM (#23419416) Homepage
    That is what TrueCrypt is for (but don't encrypt the entire drive). Just encrypt what needs encryptin'. Set up an encrypted volume with a shadow volume inside a regular file. Call it something that looks like a system file like MSDOS.SYS or DBLSPACE.BIN or something. (That would explain the unusually large size of the file.)

    So first, they would have to know you even have something encrypted (which is just a guess if they see TrueCrypt installed). Then they'd have to know what/which files was/were encrypted (which can't be determined by examining the file). Then they'd have to ask you to mount the volume and provide the password (at which time you then provide the shadow volume password, which only contains innocuous files).

    I can't be the only dummy to figure that out.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by rsborg ( 111459 )

      So first, they would have to know you even have something encrypted (which is just a guess if they see TrueCrypt installed).

      On OSX, disk utility will create encrypted disk images for you, so every mac user potentially has encrypted content (apparently Vista also has something similar).

      Furthermore, you could also make TrueCrypt portable on XP, putting it, and possibly even your encrypted volume on a USB Key. Include this with a simple file rename and extension change and you'll have hidden encrypted content.

    • Then swap laptops with a co-worker 1) without them knowing the password 2) make sure he takes the secured data through security after you, here's why:

      Then they'd have to ask you to...

      that is where the ultimate question comes, if you can access the data, and it is their, then are you willing to commit a felony (lie to a federal agent) to protect the privacy of that data. (most likely my company's data.)
      Thats clearly a big NO for myself.
      IE if I true crypt a partition, I know it will be (within all reason) saf

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Hoplite3 ( 671379 )
      I've suggested this before, but I think it should be repeated.

      You should also put something mildly embarrassing in the shadow drive. Something so that when the customs dude sees it, he can construct a plausible narrative of why you encrypted it. Naked pictures of a girl who could be your girlfriend (but definitely looks over the age of majority in the country you're flying to), steamy love letters that aren't over the top, evidence of a fake affair. Nothing illegal, just "improper." Bonus points if you
  • by imuffin ( 196159 ) on Thursday May 15, 2008 @12:31PM (#23419428)
    Can customs officials refuse entry to an American Citizen? Can they banish me for refusing to divulge my password?
    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 15, 2008 @12:41PM (#23419578)

      Can customs officials refuse entry to an American Citizen? Can they banish me for refusing to divulge my password?
      They cannot. They can only detain you "for a reasonable period of time" while they investigate what you may be carrying, but they have to justify the length of detention by some reasonable suspicion. i.e. we suspect he swallowed drugs and so can take 3 days to see what comes out the other end. But they need to back that up with why they suspect that.

      Or another example is detain you and/or the computer until they can image the drive.
      And they can confiscate contraband (your definition may vary).
      Ultimately, you have the right to enter the country.
    • by King_TJ ( 85913 ) on Thursday May 15, 2008 @12:45PM (#23419648) Journal
      I don't think the issue is whether or not an American citizen might be "banished from the country" upon making a return trip. I'd say, no, they're NOT able to do that.

      The problem is, they could confiscate your expensive computer gear, and there's no guarantee you'd ever get it back. (There seems to be no real statute of limitations on the time these people are allowed to take to "examine" your property, if they claim a potential "security risk".)
  • CF/SD cards? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by future assassin ( 639396 ) on Thursday May 15, 2008 @12:31PM (#23419432) Homepage
    Maybe depending on the amount of data you have you could store it onto a CF/SD card and put it into your camera? There has to some way of storing the data on the memory card so that the camera will not see those files but still leave enough space to take a few shots of the customs agents.

  • Corporation Lawyers (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Johnny Mnemonic ( 176043 ) <`moc.liamg' `ta' `eromsnidm'> on Thursday May 15, 2008 @12:38PM (#23419528) Homepage Journal
    You can bet that before I type my password for a customs agent, I'm going to talk to my company's legal department. And I'll wait in the customs office as long as it takes. Or simply forfeit the laptop and put it in the trash.

    The IP on my laptop is easily worth 10x more than the value of the laptop itself.
    • by goaliemn ( 19761 ) on Thursday May 15, 2008 @01:13PM (#23420240) Homepage
      Unfortunately, you won't have that luxury. No matter what country you're going into, they can do this and you don't get a phone call. They'll sieze your laptop and you'll have no other options. If you smash it, you'll probably get arrested for interfering with an investigation, or the work of an officer. IF you throw it in the trash, they'll collect it and get what they want.

      If the IP on your laptop is worth that much, you shouldn't be carrying it outside of the country on a laptop. I worked at a company that prohibited us from carrying certain information on our laptops to some middle eastern countries, as they were known for seizing/replicating hard drives from employees in certain industries.

      If anything, you may face legal issues from your employer if you're taking that valuable of information out of the country.
  • by Boron55 ( 1060136 ) on Thursday May 15, 2008 @12:38PM (#23419530)
    Imagine the pre-computer days, when the customs could stop you, do a naked search and go through all your papers without any passwords. What could you do at that time? Just do not take the sensitive papers with you or mail them with certified mail.

    I think there is no difference now. Email your files and do not put them on your laptop. That is what TFA is basically saying too.

    So, IMHO, complains here won't work. The only problem that travelers have with laptop/cellphone search is inconvenience (since everybody is used to store all your files on your hard drive), but otherwise it is not any bit less legal than it was before the laptop era. And inconvenience is not any concern for authorities at all. So consider your laptop to be your briefcase and just not put any documents there that you don't want custom officers to see. End of story.
  • by querist ( 97166 ) on Thursday May 15, 2008 @12:39PM (#23419540) Homepage
    Having returned from my second trip to China, I still find it amazing that it is easier for me, as a foreigner, to enter China than it is for me, as a US citizen (born a US citizen to parents who were US citizens, etc.) to enter the US after a trip abroad.

    I just pretty much walked right through in China - I handed them the entry form (one half of the two part form - the other half you give them when you leave) and they waved me through. Customs in China did not even ask to see my laptop, never mind read files or anything like that.

    On returning to the US at Detroit International, I was given the 3rd degree by US Customs agents, and I'm a US Citizen. "How long were you in China?" (as if he couldn't tell by the side-by side entry/departure stamps in my passport) "What were you doing there?" (visiting friends) "What do these friends do for a living?" (A couple of college professors and a financial analyst)

    This happened on both of my trips.

    And I noticed that they were doing this to EVERYONE, not just me. (The plane had several hundred people on it.) I'd hate to see what they were doing to Chinese citizens entering the US.

    I hope they realize that they are going to scare businesses away from the US if they keep this up.

    I find it somewhat ironic that the captcha for this post is "undergo".
  • Two Drives (Score:4, Funny)

    by Archangel Michael ( 180766 ) on Thursday May 15, 2008 @12:43PM (#23419612) Journal
    Some of today's higher end laptops have easily removable Hard Drives (some multiple drives). It shouldn't take more than a minute or two to replace a functional secondary HD for Customs, and have the other drive tucked into your bag.

    Though, they'll probably protest the phillips driver you'll have to carry to accomplish this, because you know that is a dangerous weapon.
  • by lowsinon ( 842366 ) on Thursday May 15, 2008 @12:46PM (#23419658) Homepage
    No doubt they just install a rootkit/keylogger on your box after ripping your HD so after you leave their rootkit calls back and gives them your truecrypt passwords. Don't use a laptop you've lost sight of.
  • by arthurpaliden ( 939626 ) on Thursday May 15, 2008 @12:50PM (#23419728)
    Have all your US and overseas clients meet each other in Toronto, Vancouver or anywhere in Canada for that matter.
  • by old dr omr ( 1289450 ) on Thursday May 15, 2008 @12:51PM (#23419756)
    My Mobile phone has a 4Gb flash card the size of my little fingernail. If I had any files that I didn't want customs to see I'd keep them on there and hide it somewhere they'd never find it. Come to think of it I'd probably never find it once I got there. :)
  • by Gregoyle ( 122532 ) on Thursday May 15, 2008 @12:53PM (#23419794)
    There are a couple of ways to hide your data; one is to have two Truecrypt volumes, one hidden and one standard. This is easy, but it still lets the customs agent know you are using Truecrypt. This may not be a problem in the US (right now) but what about other countries where simply knowing about a program like Truecrypt could look suspicious?

    This post [] on the Truecrypt forums describes a way to install two OSes, one for show, and one hidden. Unless there is a Truecrypt rescue CD or bootable USB thumbdrive inserted the system will boot to a normal Windows desktop. This method would hold up to any casual sort of inspection, such as those customs agents carry out dozens of times per day. There are a couple of traces that would need to be removed in order to actually have "plausible deniability", but to me not having the questions asked in the first place is preferable to being able to deny one of the potential answers.

    It's sad that you might need to do things like this, but there are often technological solutions to social problems.
  • We have arrived! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by erroneus ( 253617 ) on Thursday May 15, 2008 @01:20PM (#23420362) Homepage
    Some would say we have arrived long ago, but this is certainly a telling mark.

    We are discussing "hiding legal and unincriminating" stuff so that we don't get hassled by government police. We have gone far beyond the "if you don't have anything to hide, you have nothing to fear" argument where now, even when you don't you have plenty to fear... in this case, potential loss of ability to work!!

    They have been going too far for a while, but this is a point at which even the most common person can appreciate and understand the problem with this.

    If the EFF were buying "public awareness" ad time on TV, radio and print (I haven't seen any if they already are) I'd donate $100 each month from now until "we've won" whatever that means. I'm sick of this.
  • by Ralph Spoilsport ( 673134 ) * on Thursday May 15, 2008 @01:20PM (#23420378) Journal
    it would be funny.

    Using Director or some similar app, make a "movie" that looks and acts like a BSOD or a "Sad Mac with chimes of Death" play on start up. They start it up, it seems to boot fine, then suddenly it "BSOD's" or the Sad Mac comes out and DING DING DONG" and goes black.

    Then you get to yell at then for fucking up your laptop, and demand they buy you a new one RIGHT NOW GOD DAMN IT. And make 'em feel guilty. "LOOK - MY COMPUTER - THEY KILLED MY COMPUTER!!!" Start to cry about how much work you just lost because those numbskulls broke your computer.

    They'll close it, right quick, and give it back to you and put you on your plane and hope you shut up.



  • Obvious solution (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Sir_Lewk ( 967686 ) <sirlewk@gmail. c o m> on Thursday May 15, 2008 @01:29PM (#23420576)
    ipods. I mean, come on, they're nothing more than several dozen GB thumbdrives, you can easily put all your stuff on there and carry it with you without suspicion.
  • by Cookie3 ( 82257 ) on Thursday May 15, 2008 @01:33PM (#23420672) Homepage
    Customs agents (US and Japanese) stopped me several times over the years to inspect my laptop. In every case that I can remember I was able to dodge "inspection" by simply saying that I couldn't turn my laptop on because no battery was installed (which was the truth). I would only carry a power cord in my laptop case, no batteries.

    My battery was actually located in a separate carry-on; a backpack or a suitcase or some such.

    I guess if they were really interested in the laptop they could've plugged it in to a wall outlet and gotten into it that way.. but they never asked to do that.
  • Need One of These (Score:5, Informative)

    by Jah-Wren Ryel ( 80510 ) on Thursday May 15, 2008 @01:35PM (#23420714)
    Put all your important data on one of these [] - or better yet, don't rip the cable up - leave it alone so it looks like any other cable.
  • by TRRosen ( 720617 ) on Thursday May 15, 2008 @02:17PM (#23421606)
    Next time your laptop breaks down leave the country and come back in and let the TSA figure out whats wrong. Better yet just to screw with them every time you go out of the country buy a cheap busted laptop and carry in though customs.
  • Very BAD advice... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Bazman ( 4849 ) on Thursday May 15, 2008 @02:21PM (#23421708) Journal
    He gives one piece of very bad advice, on the subject of keeping your data on a big memory card and keeping it in your wallet. He says:

    'If someone does discover it, you can try saying: "I don't know what's on there. My boss told me to give it to the head of the New York office."'

      Never ever lie to customs guys. If they ring your boss and he denies it, or if you later change your story and say "oh yes, that's really all my files", or if you can't instantly give the address of the fictional 'New York office', then you better start relaxing in preparation for them gloving up to see if you are hiding any other memory cards.

      Same with hidden partitions. If, by sheer bad luck, you do encounter a tech-savvy customs guy and he says 'have you got any hidden partitions on here?', say 'Yes'. Better than saying 'No' and having them find out later.

      I'm not saying roll over and give them everything - you have rights - just don't lie.

Who goeth a-borrowing goeth a-sorrowing. -- Thomas Tusser