Subject: Re: Important Documents (was: Travel Tips)
Good morning Ziners,

Even though it sounds like a good idea to email scanned pictures of important documents to yourself, I just want to add a word of caution for using email.

With very few exceptions, email messages are not encrypted, therefore their contents can be sniffed in transit by anyone who wants to do it and knows how to do it. And there are no shortage of cybercrooks out there.

For security, I will not send credit card number and expiration date in an email message. Likewise, a scanned passport file has vital information about yourself, it may be a gold mine for identity thief. (Now that I opened the can of worms, I feel responsible to also point out that when you shop online, the page that asks for your credit card number normally starts with https in the URL. The s after http means secured, or encrypted, so it is not the same as sending your credit card number in a plain text message.)

My compromise has been to carry a small diskette with me when travel. I copy files I may need to the diskette, so that I can insert the diskette into a computer on the road to read them. Among the internet cafes I have been to so far, none of them will let customers insert diskette into any of their computers. But in an emergency situation, I am sure your hotel will print a file from your diskette for you.

Safe traveling, Mei-Ching in Massachusetts