Cybercriminals thrive during the holidays, and this summer will be no exception. The rise in cyberattacks has become a prime worry for governments and companies around the world, and while many of us look forward to booking a summer break and taking our mind off the pandemic, bad actors are setting the trap for a new wave of vacationers.
Even if a traditional summer holiday seems unlikely for many, the fact that many countries are easing their COVID-19 lockdowns has stirred our anticipation of some fun in the sun, away from the hustle and bustle of the big city.
However, the prospect of a well-deserved holiday may cloud our judgement, making us vulnerable to attacks that won’t just cut our vacation short by draining our account.
Whether you’re planning a staycation or travelling abroad, some preventive measures can help prevent you and your devices from becoming the next target.
Think cybersecurity when booking your holiday
Scammers always do their homework, and a post COVID-19 holiday surge offers the perfect hunting ground. If you’re just leafing through some last-minute bookings for your holiday, keep a lookout for fraudulent posts and listings used to promote vacations scams.
If you plan to visit a new place closer to home, or to rent an RV to roam the countryside, make sure to check official and trustworthy websites. Avoid too-good-to-be-true offers, and don’t purchase any holiday offers you receive via cold calls, email or text messages.
Most of these fake listings lead would-be holidaymakers to sophisticated-looking websites that usually include a customer service chat function.
However, they are designed to steal your personal and financial information. Always double-check the validity of the offer, and if you are required to pay via bank transfer into an individual’s account, take your business elsewhere.
Brush up on good cyber hygiene before departure
So, you’ve managed to find and book your holiday destination this year. While packing your flip-flops, sunscreen and other necessities, dedicate some time to prepare the devices you will be taking with you on holiday. Your Internet-enabled devices are susceptible to attacks, so check whether your devices and apps are running the latest updates.
Protecting your online account should be a top priority both at home or on the go. Use strong, unique passwords for all of your online accounts prior to departure, and back up your data. Should you be targeted by a ransomware attack, you won’t have to pay a ransom demand to access your personal files.
Don’t forget to install a local cybersecurity solution and VPN on your devices. Although we don’t always bring our laptops on vacation, smartphones and tablets are forever present, and often overlooked when it comes to security solutions. A VPN will protect your online activity from prying eyes and keep your transactions safe. These small oversights can cut your vacation short, and you might end up with more than you bargained for.
Remaining cyber-safe at destination
Arrived at your final summer destination and you’re ready to unwind? Great. However, don’t take a break from cybersecurity. Threat actors love to set up shop during the summer months, when we go on holiday, and they never take time off from crime.
Free public Wi-Fi can be terribly tempting, but, more often than not, it’s left unsecure, exposing your personal information to hackers. Don’t transmit or make purchases on unsafe Wi-Fi networks in local cafes, restaurants or hotel lobbies, as these networks can easily be spoofed by cybercriminals, and used to steal data such as passwords, documents and financial data.
It’s also a good idea to disable the auto-connect to wireless networks or Bluetooth devices on your smartphone or tablet, and avoid online shopping or transactions while on holiday, especially if you are connected to a public Wi-Fi network. If online banking can’t be avoided, use your mobile data, and turn on the VPN.
Think twice before posting on social media. We all love sharing our trip updates and pictures, but cybercriminals can monitor our social media content, and even attempt to steal directly from our homes. Consider posting your vacation memories when you return from your trip, and if you need to keep your family members updated, use the private message function or other means of communications.
Last but not least, avoid any shared computers you might find at the house rental, hotel or coffee shop. You are free to browse the internet, but don’t make any purchases or login into your email or other online accounts.