Thalia Landman, Gurucul
You might be on your travels, but malicious hackers and cybercriminals are not. They’re always looking to take advantage and often target travellers lacking in cyber-awareness. Through strategic hacking and careful planning, they can easily access a traveller’s personal devices and steal sensitive information like credit card numbers and private data. So how do you mitigate your chances of becoming a victim of identity theft, fraud, and/or cybercrime on vacation? You can start by following these cyber safety travel tips.
1) Avoid Public Wi-Fi, Data Theft & Fraud
Surfing the internet and streaming content over the airports public Wi-Fi network sounds like a great way to kill time before a flight. However, this immediately puts you at risk for cyber fraud. Hackers use open networks to gain access to devices and steal personal data. Avoid your devices being hacked by following this important travel tip.
2) Avoid Fraud at Public Charging Stations
Cyber criminals are finding new and innovative ways to commit cybercrimes. For example, faux mobile phone charging stations are a new cyber threat. Posing as a station for public users to hook up their devices and conveniently charge their batteries, these fake battery-charge stations is actually stealing the personal data on your phone. In certain cases, fraudsters might have the station infect your device with malware. Thus, gaining access to your sensitive information and photos on your phone.
Prevent this form of fraud by refraining from charging your devices at a public charging station. Bring your own cord with you and have a portable battery pack handy for the times your devices are running low.
3) Ditch the Debit Card & Travel Light
One of the most important travel tips we can give you is to not use your debit card. Now, this is not always possible, especially if you’re traveling out of town and might need access to funds. A smart fraud prevention tip is to use your credit card for purchases. That’s because most credit card companies will not hold you responsible for fraudulent charges. If a thief gets hold of your debit card information, they can milk your account dry in no time. So, do yourself a favour by leaving your debit card and any unnecessary forms of personal identification (social security card, health insurance, etc.) in a safe place.
4) Beware of Visual Hackers Stealing Sensitive Information
Ever get the feeling that someone is watching you? Nearly 80 per cent of 1,000 business travellers surveyed point to visual hacking as a major cybersecurity threat. They believe nearly one in three data breaches is a result of this covert form of cybercrime. This happens to unaware business travellers whom might be accessing company files on their laptops while waiting at the airport. Or, it might happen to someone putting in personal information, like bank account username and password, on their exposed phone screen at the train station. Visual hackers are standing nearby ready to memorize your information.
Mitigate this problem by limiting the confidential information you access in public. Find a private spot or consider placing a privacy screen on your devices when you travel.
5) Turn Off Automatic Replies
Perhaps you’re going out of town on a dream holiday, business trip or taking some personal time off. You want your contacts to be aware that you will not be replying to their e-mails. So, you carefully construct an automatic reply that gives the dates you’ll be gone, the location, and a co-worker’s contact information for emergency.
While this is a standard practice, the issue is that anyone can receive the automatic reply. Once a fraudster collects these specific details, there is no limit to the cybercrime they can do. From identity theft, such as posing as a vendor in need of rush payment, to privileged access abuse, by hacking into the absent users account to steal sensitive information.
Instead, reach out to your contacts to let them know you will be gone. Or, if you absolutely must, leave a vague auto-reply message such as “I am currently unavailable”.