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  1. FF22's Avatar
    I've got two choices - Verizon KeyOne or a Google Fi Pixel 3. But the real question is should I take a cell phone? Hassles with an American cell phone? Any issues? Subject to any inspections?

    Can Gmail be used? Google to look non-provocative sight-seeing stuff up? I hear that wifi in hotels might be limited but maybe cell DATA is not?

    Anything else to be aware of? Any info appreciated.

    I was not sure where to post this question/subject.
    09-13-19 06:41 PM
  2. howarmat's Avatar
    i bought a SIM before I went with preloaded data and everything and had no issue doing anything in china. Used a VPN especially if something was "blocked" by the govt but no issues really

    Pretty sure this was the service I used. It was slightly more expensive buying this before going but it was incredibly nice to just load SIM on landing and go and not have to look around to get 1

    https://www.3gsolutions.com.cn/page/simcard
  3. howarmat's Avatar
    i bought a SIM before I went with preloaded data and everything and had no issue doing anything in china. Used a VPN especially if something was "blocked" by the govt but no issues really

    Pretty sure this was the service I used. It was slightly more expensive buying this before going but it was incredibly nice to just load SIM on landing and go and not have to look around to get 1

    https://www.3gsolutions.com.cn/page/simcard
    09-13-19 06:55 PM
  4. bb10adopter111's Avatar
    Get a burner phone and SIM prepaid with cash using an alias. Then use a VPN and don't log in to any account for which you don't use multi-factor authentication.

    Use your phone as little as possible.


    Posted with my trusty Z10
    zephyr613 likes this.
    09-13-19 07:08 PM
  5. brookie229's Avatar
    Just go with your phone and slap in a sim when you get there. You won't have any problems. Oh - no Google anything and even VPN's can be glitchy/blocked. Just mind your business, don't cause any trouble, enjoy the culture and be amazed at the things you see. If you are going into a rural area be aware of the fact you may be stared at (unless you are of Asian ancestry,lol) or asked by people if they can take a photo with you. Avoid the salads, tap water because you will get sick if you don't! Have a great trip!
    John Albert likes this.
    09-13-19 10:17 PM
  6. TrumpetTiger's Avatar
    I've got two choices - Verizon KeyOne or a Google Fi Pixel 3. But the real question is should I take a cell phone? Hassles with an American cell phone? Any issues? Subject to any inspections?

    Can Gmail be used? Google to look non-provocative sight-seeing stuff up? I hear that wifi in hotels might be limited but maybe cell DATA is not?

    Anything else to be aware of? Any info appreciated.

    I was not sure where to post this question/subject.
    Be aware that every single thing you look up will be tracked. Assume all Internet use is monitored...because, well, it is over there.

    Posted via CB10
    09-13-19 11:21 PM
  7. scrannel's Avatar
    Went with family -- my son even called his pals from the Great Wall. Used our regular T-Mo (USA) SIMS. In other words, no prep. Everything worked unless no signal. Also, wifi-calling worked.
    Last edited by scrannel; 09-14-19 at 08:57 AM.
    09-14-19 07:32 AM
  8. FF22's Avatar
    Thanks for the replies.

    Keep those cards and letters coming - can't have too much info.
    09-14-19 10:57 AM
  9. bb10adopter111's Avatar
    The main thing is to be aware that there are literally tens of thousands of government intelligence agents monitoring EVERY unencrypted data packet, call and SMS you send. These agents have several main goals:

    1) Credential theft. Remember that the Chinese government likely controls the DNS service you are using and will redirect to falsified login sites and sites without Https:// in order to steal credentials. Their main targets are Gmail and work credentials.

    2) Message interception. If you don't use encrypted email (and hardly anyone does), you should assume that all of your messages are being read. NEVER email anything for work that you wouldn't want adversaries to know. This includes business plans, intellectual property, names of co-workers that can be used to compromise your account, etc. My recommendation is to use Signal for all work and personal communications while in China unless you have encrypted email capabilities.

    3) Social network mapping: The government is looking for social relationships to use for intelligence gathering. Try to minimize your communications on Facebook, LinkedIn and other networks. Also, don't connect on social media to anyone you don't know well during or after your trip.

    Posted with my trusty Z10
    09-14-19 11:19 AM
  10. brookie229's Avatar
    Signal
    Doesn't work in China. OP, if this is a holiday don't worry about all this spying stuff - just enjoy!

    I've been to China several times over the last 10 years and never any problem with my own device and a Chinese telecom sim which I purchased for a tiny amount. Of course you are tracked as you are anywhere in the world (including Canada and USA) - so what? As long as you are a tourist only you won't have any trouble with your existing device.
    elfabio80 likes this.
    09-14-19 11:58 AM
  11. bb10adopter111's Avatar
    Doesn't work in China. OP, if this is a holiday don't worry about all this spying stuff - just enjoy!

    I've been to China several times over the last 10 years and never any problem with my own device and a Chinese telecom sim which I purchased for a tiny amount. Of course you are tracked as you are anywhere in the world (including Canada and USA) - so what? As long as you are a tourist only you won't have any trouble with your existing device.
    Thanks for the tip. I haven't been to China myself since 2013, when I was in Shanghai. I was traveling on business (nothing to do with the government or cyber or defense) but my company would not let me take my work phone and set up a burner for me. I used encrypted VOIP for all my phone communications.

    At the Hotel I logged in to my personal Google account over hotel WiFi, just to live dangerously, and my account was attacked within a day, with the compromise foiled by my hardware authentication key.

    I don't consider protecting myself from a government who routinely attempts to violate my privacy as "spy stuff" but I absolutely agree that you should decide what, if anything, you wish to protect, take care of that, and then relax and enjoy your trip. I loved every minute of my time in China!

    The simplest thing is to just go old school. Turn off your phone as often as possible and connect with your surroundings.

    Posted with my trusty Z10
    Last edited by bb10adopter111; 09-14-19 at 12:54 PM.
    09-14-19 12:40 PM
  12. FF22's Avatar
    Thanks. I guess I have some good background info. But then yesterday, there was an article on "exit bans" was it. Mostly aimed at former Chinese citizens or relatives of them.

    So just one more (so far) question - I presume using a VPN might hide log-ons or such but do they work and would using one trigger suspicions about what communications you are trying to hide. I don't know much about VPN's but I guess the amount of data going through a local wifi is known or noticed even if encrypted.

    And you are right - just go and enjoy the terracotta warriors and the great wall. Strictly a tourist on a Road Scholar trip. But in the down time in the evening, I do tend to be a news junky checking on local stories and tariff rates (g). and hiking reports about local trails.

    But I appreciate the answers a lot.
    09-15-19 09:27 AM
  13. brookie229's Avatar
    Thanks. I guess I have some good background info. But then yesterday, there was an article on "exit bans" was it. Mostly aimed at former Chinese citizens or relatives of them.

    So just one more (so far) question - I presume using a VPN might hide log-ons or such but do they work and would using one trigger suspicions about what communications you are trying to hide. I don't know much about VPN's but I guess the amount of data going through a local wifi is known or noticed even if encrypted.

    And you are right - just go and enjoy the terracotta warriors and the great wall. Strictly a tourist on a Road Scholar trip. But in the down time in the evening, I do tend to be a news junky checking on local stories and tariff rates (g). and hiking reports about local trails.

    But I appreciate the answers a lot.
    Regarding the VPN situation in China. As I stated above, the current status is sketchy at best. Sometimes it works well but other times it fails and this can be the case for any of the services you subscribe to. The best bet RIGHT NOW is ExpressVPN but even it can fail in some situations. I know that it's not what you want to hear but that's the reality in China. A second good alternative is NordVPN as they maintain an entire team dedicated to getting by websites that are blocked in countries such as Iran, Saudi Arabia and China.

    I had problems with a VPN the 2nd last time I went so last time just gave up and avoided using the Internet for the most part. Texting and calls etc were my mainstays. Good Luck!

    Posted via CB10
    FF22 likes this.
    09-15-19 11:37 AM
  14. stevec66's Avatar
    I travel to China 4 times a year on Business never ran into a problem, all good advice given above my only comments would keep any political thoughts to yourself especially with what's going on in Hong Kong, my stock answer is always I never follow the news I have no idea what's going on sorry. If you are male good chance you will be approach in hotel bars by very pretty call girls don't be tempted especially in the major centres, keep it in your pants.
    09-15-19 06:10 PM
  15. zephyr613's Avatar
    Get a burner phone and SIM prepaid with cash using an alias. Then use a VPN and don't log in to any account for which you don't use multi-factor authentication.

    Use your phone as little as possible.


    Posted with my trusty Z10
    ^ This.... very much so, THIS!!!!!
    FF22 likes this.
    09-15-19 07:56 PM
  16. Chuck Finley69's Avatar
    I, Chuck Finley69, use a burner phone domestically on missions... so ...... it would always seem the prudent choice...
    FF22 likes this.
    09-15-19 08:50 PM
  17. brookie229's Avatar
    Tiny story: the last time I was in China (Hunan province and later Tibet), I went to a mobile mall (massive plaza full of micro booths with everything mobile under the sun) in Changsha, whipped out my Passport for the telecom rep to put a sim in it and received looks of disbelief from everyone in the booth. I had to show the rep where to put the sim in the device but while I was doing that another guy called colleagues over to look at the weird device. No one in there had seen one but they did recognize the BB symbol. Maybe everyone was being polite but there was absolutely NO snickering which was weird compared to some of the snide remarks I get in North American providers.
    FF22 likes this.
    09-15-19 09:37 PM
  18. dubengeldu's Avatar
    Hey an interesting globetrotter discussion nevertheless. And i thought my highlights were weird,when a seagull stood still in strong counterwind, but managed to crap right onmy top hand. Eating a small pizza onthe statue of liberty. Tourist Rosewoodpen. Chris on it

    Posted via CB10
    09-16-19 12:12 PM
  19. scrannel's Avatar
    If you want to use a "burner" phone, prepaid SIM and in general play James Bond, live it up. But it's all nonsense (unless you really are a spy!). Just take your current phone and SIM and you will be fine.

    And yes, avoid Big City girls picking you up in bars. Who they are depends on who you are.
    09-17-19 02:01 AM
  20. bb10adopter111's Avatar
    If you want to use a "burner" phone, prepaid SIM and in general play James Bond, live it up. But it's all nonsense (unless you really are a spy!). Just take your current phone and SIM and you will be fine.

    And yes, avoid Big City girls picking you up in bars. Who they are depends on who you are.
    If you have no information or other assets to protect, never intend to have an important job or work for a company with government contracts, sure, go ahead and share your digital life as freely as you wish. But many companies that send executives to China provide burner phones and laptops for good reason.

    Posted with my trusty Z10
    zephyr613 likes this.
    09-17-19 11:13 AM
  21. bb10adopter111's Avatar
    Here's a standard set of recommendations. Sorry it took me so long to pull them together.

    This is not "spy stuff." This is best practice corporate and personal cyber hygiene.

    -- Leave your regular laptop, phone, and tablet at home. If you're traveling for work, have your IT department prepare a hardened device for foreign travel without access to any sensitive data.

    -- Limit the data you take. If you have to take devices at all, back up any data not required for the trip, ensure that you have secure disk encryption with a very long pass phrase (Mine has 148 characters). Delete all old emails you don't absolutely need from all your devices. DO NOT CARRY USB DEVICES AS THEY ARE EASILY STOLEN, AND EVEN EASIER TO SWAP WITH MALWARE INFECTED ONES. (However, carrying a carefully marked fully encrypted USB drive might be a sensible choice, so long as it is always in your physical possession)

    -- Email files you need to access to your partners in advance of the trip, via encrypted email.

    -- Before you leave, change all the passwords of devices or services you need to access while in China (since they may already be compromised) Use unique and complex passwords together with an encrypted password manager on your encrypted drive.

    -- Keep your devices within your physical posession. IF YOU LEAVE A LAPTOP OR PHONE IN A BUSINESS CLASS HOTEL, YOU SHOULD ASSUME THAT A PROFESSIONAL WITH SERIOUS SKILLS WILL TRY TO COMPROMISE IT WHILE YOU ARE OUT.

    -- Don’t use public charging outlets. If you must, use a "USB Condom" that blocks data.

    -- Limit public connections to the Internet. Don't use any public Wi-Fi, including the service in your hotel. Just don't do it. Don't use computers located in the hotel’s business center, WHICH ARE GUARANTEED to malicious software. Use a VPN to access your employer’s server. Keep in mind that the Chinese government maintains strict control over internet usage via its “Great Firewall.”

    -- Disable your phone’s Bluetooth and Wi-Fi capabilities.

    -- Always sign out of apps and browsers.

    -- Have a plan to wipe any lost or stolen device immediately. Know how to do it remotely or who to call.

    -- Assume the trip compromised your devices. The best practice is to DESTROY your devices upon your return, since the MAC address has already been exposed. If that isn't practical, assume any devices you take overseas end up being compromised. If you have an IT security team, have them run diagnostics on it, but, in any case, replace the hard drive or do a secure wipe, then reinstall the OS, software and data.
    09-17-19 11:44 AM
  22. zephyr613's Avatar
    Here's a standard set of recommendations. Sorry it took me so long to pull them together.

    This is not "spy stuff." This is best practice corporate and personal cyber hygiene.

    -- Leave your regular laptop, phone, and tablet at home. If you're traveling for work, have your IT department prepare a hardened device for foreign travel without access to any sensitive data.

    -- Limit the data you take. If you have to take devices at all, back up any data not required for the trip, ensure that you have secure disk encryption with a very long pass phrase (Mine has 148 characters). Delete all old emails you don't absolutely need from all your devices. DO NOT CARRY USB DEVICES AS THEY ARE EASILY STOLEN, AND EVEN EASIER TO SWAP WITH MALWARE INFECTED ONES. (However, carrying a carefully marked fully encrypted USB drive might be a sensible choice, so long as it is always in your physical possession)

    -- Email files you need to access to your partners in advance of the trip, via encrypted email.

    -- Before you leave, change all the passwords of devices or services you need to access while in China (since they may already be compromised) Use unique and complex passwords together with an encrypted password manager on your encrypted drive.

    -- Keep your devices within your physical posession. IF YOU LEAVE A LAPTOP OR PHONE IN A BUSINESS CLASS HOTEL, YOU SHOULD ASSUME THAT A PROFESSIONAL WITH SERIOUS SKILLS WILL TRY TO COMPROMISE IT WHILE YOU ARE OUT.

    -- Don’t use public charging outlets. If you must, use a "USB Condom" that blocks data.

    -- Limit public connections to the Internet. Don't use any public Wi-Fi, including the service in your hotel. Just don't do it. Don't use computers located in the hotel’s business center, WHICH ARE GUARANTEED to malicious software. Use a VPN to access your employer’s server. Keep in mind that the Chinese government maintains strict control over internet usage via its “Great Firewall.”

    -- Disable your phone’s Bluetooth and Wi-Fi capabilities.

    -- Always sign out of apps and browsers.

    -- Have a plan to wipe any lost or stolen device immediately. Know how to do it remotely or who to call.

    -- Assume the trip compromised your devices. The best practice is to DESTROY your devices upon your return, since the MAC address has already been exposed. If that isn't practical, assume any devices you take overseas end up being compromised. If you have an IT security team, have them run diagnostics on it, but, in any case, replace the hard drive or do a secure wipe, then reinstall the OS, software and data.
    ALL excellent suggestions - 1 last one, whatever device you choose to carry, make sure "Location" is disabled as well. I wholeheartedly agree with @bb10adopter111 and Chuck. This is all good Security Hygiene and should be followed accordingly.

    I can tell you a story of a Corporate Exec who happened to be traveling on the same plane as a Government person, they BOTH had their phones and laptops infected while overseas and supposedly "locked" in a hotel safes - both were compromised at the same level of sophistication.

    Just know that whatever you take will be compromised at some level and be prepared to toss them upon your return.
    09-17-19 11:58 AM
  23. scrannel's Avatar
    You mean, this?


    Steps to Secure Your Devices and Data Before Traveling to China – FirstCall

    Or even worse... right in our own back yards.

    https://www.travelandleisure.com/art...devices-secure

    And my all-time favorite: "Tourists crossing the Chinese border into the Xinjiang region have had their phones seized by border guards, who then install Android malware called BXAQ or Fengcai. It searches for… parts of the Quran, Dalai Lama PDF files and music from a Japanese metal band, Unholy Grave."
    Last edited by scrannel; Yesterday at 08:51 AM.
    Yesterday 04:12 AM
  24. FF22's Avatar
    I travel to China 4 times a year on Business never ran into a problem, all good advice given above my only comments would keep any political thoughts to yourself especially with what's going on in Hong Kong, my stock answer is always I never follow the news I have no idea what's going on sorry. If you are male good chance you will be approach in hotel bars by very pretty call girls don't be tempted especially in the major centres, keep it in your pants.
    I guess they'd want a piece of me - my Social Security. I believe I am beyond, WAY beyond picking up or being picked up in bars.

    But maybe my ego could use the boost. Any other boost would be chemically induced! (g)
    Yesterday 06:32 PM
  25. FF22's Avatar
    I had not checked this thread for a few days.

    I tend to use Gmail! Obviously, Google is a no-no.

    I think I've been convinced that the laptop stays home.

    As I might have written, I just got a Pixel 3 and am using google-fi with it. Do you think that I will be able to send casual mail to my friend and sister using the email and GMAIL capabilities of the phone. The friend won't even use the data on her phone - she wants no part of google "watching" her!

    I really do not relish throwing out a new phone when I return home. Can it be securely wiped once I return home.

    Should I instead grab my older PRIV and get a local sim? Not that I'd want to throw that away either.

    I really am a tourist. And an OLD one at that. But my foreign trips have been limited to Euro countries and Norway/Iceland. I never even made it to East Berlin when it was East Berlin.
    Yesterday 06:50 PM
  26. bb10adopter111's Avatar
    I would not worry about your phone if you use proper hygiene, but definitely change your Google PW both before and after your trip, and limit your use to one account.

    USE 2-Factor Authentication with an authentication app, NOT SMS.

    A security wipe after you return would be prudent.

    Use a VPN if you can.

    Never plug your phone into a public USB charger.

    If you're traveling for work, it's more complicated. If you could use a burner, that would be a bit better, but not critical.

    You might want to strip personal info (birthday, address etc.) off of your Google account and any social media accounts you'll be using.

    Posted with my trusty Z10
    Yesterday 07:07 PM
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