Cyber Risks for Travelers

People watching airplane

Many of us will be doing some holiday travelling over the coming months.  Holiday time usually brings with it a more carefree frame of mind.  Where we can’t afford to be carefree, however, is in exposing ourselves to cyber risks. 

The travel industry and its customers are becoming more frequently targeted.  The transportation industry has risen to the second-most attacked industry by cybercriminals, according to the 2019 IBM X-Force Threat Intelligence Index.  An astonishing 566 million records from the travel and transportation industry have been leaked or compromised since January 2018, based on what has been publicly reported.

When travelling, we carry data such as passports, payment details and travel itineraries.  This information can be highly valuable in the hands of cybercriminals.  It can be used for identity theft, spear phishing attacks or be sold on the dark web. 

It is important that you not get distracted or opt for convenience over safety when travelling.  Here are some digital safety tips:

Wi-Fi Connections

These are likely to be used while you travel and can be found in many public places.  The problem is that you may be connecting to a public Wi-Fi network that is hosted by cybercriminals.  In this way, they can collect credit card information and other personal data.  Unfortunately, even legitimate Wi-Fi networks can be vulnerable to eavesdropping.  The safest option is to avoid public networks.  If you do use them, do not do any banking or make on-line payments.  Avoid entering any personal information on-line.  If you are able to connect using a VPN, this will provide additional security. 

Un-needed Connectivity

Be sure to turn off any Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and auto-connectivity to networks on your phone, tablet and/or laptop if you don’t need it. 

USB Charging Stations

As convenient as they may be, avoid free USB charging stations.  These USB connections can be modified by cybercriminals, allowing them to secretly install malware or download data.  Bring your own battery backup or use traditional wall plugs.    

Debit Card Payments

Using your debit card is risky since stores or restaurants may not have adequate security in place to protect their point-of-sale systems.  Even when using an ATM, go to a bank or inside an airport.  Here there is less chance of tampering on the ATM. 

Shred Your Paperwork

Items such as your airline tickets, boarding pass, luggage tags, hotel information and car rental paperwork should be saved until you can shred them.  Though they may seem harmless, simply leaving them behind can provide information about your loyalty rewards program.  This information is like cash to cybercriminals.  On that note, you should use strong passwords with multi-factor authentication where possible and check your rewards accounts for unusual activity. 

Enjoy your travels this summer, but be sure to manage your cyber risks. 

For information about protecting your business from cyber risks, read more here.