The paranoid Android traveler’s data-protection checklist

International border crossings are often legal gray areas where government agents can, and sometimes do, ask travelers for access to their laptops, phones and other mobile devices. Complying with the request allows them to freely search, read or copy documents, emails, passwords, contacts and social media account information.

Here’s how to safeguard corporate and personal data when traveling with recent Android-based phones and tablets, using the Chrome browser. (Part 1 of this series, which focuses on the legal background of border searches, and traveling tips for Apple devices, is available here.)

Many of the processes and steps highlighted here are basically the same as for Apple devices, but there are some key differences, mostly having to do with variations in architecture and design between Android and iOS.

The latest version of Android supported by your devices will vary depending on who the manufacturer is, what device you have and who your mobile carrier is. There are a variety of licensing and other issues involved. But in general, most Android devices should get at least 18 months of OS updates — and some vendors support devices for longer. For example, Google supports its own Pixel and Nexus devices with updates for at least two years and provides security updates for three years from when the device was sold through the Google Store, or 18 months from when sales ended. With some vendors, however, you’re lucky to get even one major operating system update, and that might arrive months after its release.

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