The urge to connect at any cost is putting travellers’ data at risk

Our clients’ urge to connect every minute of the day wherever in the world they are, is putting their data at risk, according to a recent study from Kaspersky Lab.

The impulse to connect immediately on touching down abroad means the majority of people are connecting to unsecured Wi-Fi networks and putting their personal data at risk. The Kaspersky Lab research shows that three quarters of people (82%) connect to unsecured, free-at-use public access Wi-Fi networks (such as at airport terminals, hotels, cafes and restaurants) as soon as they land.

On leaving the airport, nearly half of travellers (44%) are already online, with 50% connected by the time they arrive at the hotel. Most (69%) connect in order to let family and loved ones know they have arrived safely, followed by a need to download travel information (39%) while others feel pressure to connect to meet work obligations. Without a second thought, travellers bank or shop online and transmit confidential work information.

Why would people conduct these dangerous and sensitive activities online?

Half (50%) of people say they simply forget that their connected devices are packed with highly personal and sensitive information – just because they use them for so many other things, such as for calls, cameras, and navigation.

Corporates also say they perceive work devices to be inherently more secure than private communications tools; 41% expect their employers to have set strong security measures.

Travellers are more likely to be mugged virtually than physically…

 This lack of awareness plays right into the hands of cybercriminals. The truth is that although consumers are more afraid of physical crime, they are more likely to be mugged virtually than physically when abroad, with data, rather than travel money ending up in the wrong hands.

The research uncovers other ‘truths’ as well. Almost one in five travellers have left personal devices with hotel concierges (19%), or handed them to strangers to take pictures (18%). Almost three in 10 (28%) have left them unsupervised in public spaces. Without casting aspersions, such statistics appear to demonstrate the casualness with which people guard their devices.

Generally, the report shows people remain disinclined to make allowances for when they are outside the secure bounds of their home communications networks, often even when they are transmitting highly personal data and high confidential business information. This is likely to be down to two things: a lack of understanding of the risks of cybersecurity on unsecured public Wi-Fi networks, which people are more likely to use when abroad; and also a fundamental lack of options (or well-known options) from industry for users to get safely, cost-effectively and easily online when they want to, and need to.

So what should you be advising your clients?

 Share some tips with your clients to keep their data safe and secure while travelling

  1. Update systems and passwords

Don’t forget to update all operating systems and passwords. Having the latest version will help protect travellers’ data. Update passwords as well. Try to use a 10 character password with at least one upper case letter, number and symbol. 

  1. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is

Don’t click on ‘too good to be true’ offers’. One of hacker’s favourite tricks during the gift giving season is to post links for free gift cards to get the victim to click and invite the hacker into their system.

  1. Use a VPN when connecting to public Wi-Fi

Use a virtual private network (VPN) when logging onto free Wi-Fi in public. A VPN disguises your IP address, rendering you anonymous while online.

  1. Back Up!

Prior to travelling, ensure that your data is backed up and stored onto media that you safely leave at home or on the cloud.