A survey conducted by Morning Consult on behalf of IBM Security reveals the risks travelers face. The survey found that only 40 percent of respondents believed it was likely they would be a target for cybercrime while traveling, yet 70 percent are engaging in high-risk behaviors while on the road.
Attacks in the travel and transportation industry are becoming more frequent. Consequently, they open already unwary travelers to cybersecurity threats during their journeys.
According to the 2019 IBM X-Force Threat Intelligence Index, the transportation industry has become a priority target for cybercriminals as the second-most attacked industry—up from tenth in 2017— attracting 13 percent of observed attacks. Since January 2018, 566 million records from the travel and transportation industry have been leaked or compromised in publicly reported breaches.
Traveling a dangerous road
Traveling can make people more vulnerable to security threats than they are at home.
On the road, people tend to be distracted and overwhelmed, often opting for convenience over security. At home, they may have safeguards like controlling physical access to devices and setting up firewalls to prevent digital intrusions, but on the road, they might be more exposed.
Morning Consult conducted an online survey on behalf of IBM Security to understand exactly how much risk travelers expose themselves to while away from home, and found most Americans engage in high-risk behaviors while traveling.
More than 70 percent of Americans surveyed have connected to public Wi-Fi, charged a device using a public USB station, or enabled auto-connect on their devices which puts their information at risk.
Business travelers are even more likely to engage in risky behaviors. Nearly half (45 percent) of business travelers carry a device with valuable or sensitive information on it. And yet, business travelers admitted much more frequently to risky behaviors.
Travelers are acutely aware of the risks to their financial information with more than half of those surveyed saying that they are extremely or very concerned that their credit card (53 percent) or other sensitive digital information (52 percent) will get stolen when traveling.
That number drops significantly when they are not traveling. Only 40 percent similarly concerned that financial information will be stolen at home and 41 percent that their digital information will be stolen at home.
Some digital safety tips for travelers include:
- Choose your Wi-Fi with care. It’s easy for cybercriminals to host Wi-Fi networks in public places to collect data such as credit card information and more. Even legitimate networks hosted by establishments can be open to digital eavesdropping. Avoid public networks if you can; and consider using a VPN for additional security.
- Turn off unneeded connectivity. If you don’t need it, turn it off. This includes Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and auto-connecting to networks.
- Shred your tickets. The little scraps of paper from your tickets, boarding pass, luggage tag, or hotel folio may seem harmless. However, savvy criminals can gather a lot of information about your loyalty rewards program from them. Be sure to save them until you can destroy them appropriately by shredding.
- Be smart when paying. Don’t use your debit card at stores or restaurants that may not have the security to protect their point-of-sale systems. If you use an ATM, select one inside a bank branch or inside an airport; where the chance of tampering or skimmers on the ATM is reduced.