Travel Diaries: Behaviors that Expose Data to Risks Abroad

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When going on trips to foreign places, the commodity travelers usually scurry to get a hold of upon arrival is a stable internet connection. We’ve been there, and most of us can vouch for that. Acquiring free Wi-Fi access in airport terminals is like stumbling upon an oasis on a desert. However, there are snakes waiting to jump at vulnerable prey. Snakes are the data thieves while travelers are
the prey.

According to a recent study from Kaspersky Lab, travelers are exposing themselves and their data to threat from letting their guard down abroad. The research highlights the perils of consumer traveling habits. In a survey with 11,850 participants worldwide, Kaspersky Lab revealed an overriding desperation among travelers to be connected, casual attitudes towards data security, and an inclination towards risky behavior, all of which puts them on the receiving end of cyber-attacks.

Research shows many of the surveyed are careless with their connected devices abroad. A quarter (28 percent) have left them unsupervised, and one in five (19 percent) have left them with hotel concierges. Photo opportunities also drive such risky practice, with 18 percent of the participants—and one in four under-25s—handing their smartphones over to passing strangers to take their photo.

The report findings suggest that when we are on “holiday mode”, our behavior open doors to risks. Many say they are more likely to contact people they don’t know (18 percent), and engage in “sexting” (6 percent) while abroad. The survey also finds 15 percent drink more when abroad.

Moreover, a whopping 82 percent connects to unsecured public Wi-Fi abroad wherever possible, such as in airport terminals, hotels, and cafes. A lot of the surveyed also don’t take special precautions to keep their data safe from prying eyes on the internet. A third (33 percent) admit to visiting websites of sensitive nature on foreign Wi-Fi. In addition, almost half conduct online banking (48 percent) and do online shopping (46 percent) when they are abroad.

Kaspersky Lab further revealed that of consumers who have been hit by a cyberattack while overseas, around one in five had no idea of the origin of the attack. Are you guilty of committing such careless acts? Away from the security of their home networks, users must use a robust IT security solution and connect to networks via VPN, to protect themselves whilst they travel. To get more tips on how to protect yourself online, visit blog.kaspersky.com/tag/cybersavvy.

Also published in GADGETS MAGAZINE August 2016 Issue.