Insights: Top 8 cyber travel tips to keep in mind
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Insights: Safeguarding against online identity theft during travel

Insights: Safeguarding against online identity theft during travel

We look at top eight cyber travel tips to keep in mind when travelling

Travel tips

Whether you’re heading to a bustling metropolis or a tranquil beach getaway, it’s essential to remember one crucial item that often gets overlooked: cyber protection.

In this digital age, protecting yourself and your devices from cyberthreats is just as important as packing your sunscreen and travel essentials.

Economic crimes, especially identity-related crimes, get a significant boost as people engage in more financial transactions during travel, such as online shopping and game purchases. This increased activity provides more opportunities for identity thieves to gain access to personal information.

Cybercriminals may take advantage of the increased online transactions to launch phishing attacks, create fraudulent websites or distribute malware to gather sensitive information.

Further, during travel, people are often busy, distracted and in a more relaxed state of mind. They may be more likely to overlook security measures or share personal information without due caution. Such unusual tendencies significantly exacerbate the risk of identity theft.

Travelling? Top countries to put your cyber protection hat on!

During travel, it’s crucial to be aware of the potential cyber risks that could lurk in popular destinations around the world. Recent statistics have unveiled the major players in the cyberthreat realm.

Ziad Nasr

Ransomware, a malicious software that holds your data hostage, is most prevalent in China, accounting for a whopping 66.3 per cent of global attacks. South Korea follows at 18.9 per cent, while Taiwan stands at 7.6 per cent. These countries have the highest chances of encountering ransomware threats.

URL-based attacks, where deceptive links lead to malicious websites, are a major concern in Haiti (32.8 per cent), Kuwait (30.5 per cent) and Panama (20.8 per cent). Visitors to these countries must exercise caution while browsing the web to avoid falling victim to these scams.

Malware, harmful software that infects devices, is most rampant in Kenya (28.0 per cent), Singapore (27.7 per cent) and South Korea (25.3 per cent). Travellers to these destinations should be particularly cautious while downloading files or visiting unfamiliar websites.

Here are 8 cyber travel tips to keep in mind when travelling.

1. Use a virtual private network (VPN): Research showed that one in four travellers have been hacked while using public wi-fi when travelling abroad. Hence, when connecting to public networks, use a VPN to encrypt your internet connection. This will protect your data from potential eavesdropping by cyber criminals.

2. Keep your devices secure: Set up strong and unique passwords for all your devices and accounts. Enable biometric authentication, such as fingerprint or facial recognition, where available. Keep your devices locked with a passcode or PIN when not in use to prevent unauthorised access. Reports have shown most transactions, precisely 76 per cent, originate from mobile devices suggesting that fraudsters focus on exploiting vulnerabilities within the mobile experience, mainly targeting the popular ‘super apps’ prevalent in the Middle East.

3. Update your software: Keep your operating system, apps, and antivirus software up to date. Updates often include security patches that address vulnerabilities and protect against the latest threats. Set your devices to automatically install updates whenever possible.

4. Avoid suspicious links and downloads: Be cautious of clicking on unfamiliar links in emails, messages, or social media platforms. These could be phishing attempts or contain malware. Only download apps, files, or attachments from trusted sources.

A recent report, covering cybercrime wrote that the investigators in Dubai examined a major heist involving the use of AI voice cloning. It has been suspected that the heist was a sophisticated operation involving a minimum of 17 individuals. The intricate scheme involved transferring the stolen funds to bank accounts located worldwide.

5. Disable automatic connections: Turn off the automatic connection feature on your devices, as it may connect to unknown or untrusted networks without your knowledge. Manually select and connect to known and trusted networks.

6. Be mindful of social media sharing: Avoid posting detailed travel plans or sensitive personal information on social media platforms. Cybercriminals can use this information to target you or exploit your absence from home. Adjust your privacy settings to limit who can see your posts and profile information.

7. Backup your data: Regularly backup your important files and data before travelling. This ensures that even if your device is lost, stolen, or compromised, you can still access your essential information.

8. Stay informed and educate yourself: Stay updated on the latest cybersecurity threats and best practices. Familiarise yourself with common scams targeting travellers and learn how to identify and avoid them. By following these specific tips, you can enhance your cybersecurity while travelling and minimise the risk of falling victim to identity theft or other cyberthreats. Stay vigilant, be proactive and prioritise your digital wellbeing during your travels.

The real-life stories of losses and despair highlight the critical need for implementing strong cybersecurity measures. The examples of identity theft cited here have a common thread: the gross neglect of preventive measures to implement a robust cybersecurity plan. Finally, when it comes to safeguarding financial interests, it is better to be safe than sorry and engage a trusted and reliable partner in combating identity theft.

Ziad Nasr is the general manager – Middle East at Acronis

Also read: Travel tips: Trip planner, double-sealed bags and the best way to see a city

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