How to stay cyber secure while travelling for business: 6 tips

May 23, 2019

More than 70% of business travellers have been at risk for cyber attacks, according to an IBM Security report.

Business travellers are some of the most at-risk victims of cyber attacks but don't seem to realize it, according to an IBM Security report conducted by Morning Consult released Tuesday. The transportation industry has become the second-most attacked industry, and since January 2018, some 566 million records have been either leaked or compromised in the travel industry, the report found.

While the majority of business professionals (70%) engage in high-risk behaviour during travel, only 40% said they believed they would be targeted for cybercrimes while on the road, the report found.

"Traveling has always been when people are at their most vulnerable. A few hundred years ago, the perpetrators were pirates or highwaymen. Now those criminals are still out there, but they've changed their methods to focus on digital attacks instead," Caleb Barlow, vice president of X-Force Threat Intelligence at IBM Security, said in a press release. "People carry a goldmine of data when traveling including passports, payment information and detailed travel itineraries. When placed in the hands of a cybercriminal, all of this information can be patched together into a complete picture of the traveler's life to inform identity theft, initiate spear phishing attacks, or be sold on the dark web."

More than 70% of Americans surveyed said they have connected to public Wi-Fi, charged their devices using public USB stations, or enabled auto-correct on their devices—all actions that put their information at risk, the report said.

The report outlined the following six ways business travellers can protect themselves against cyber attacks while in transit:

1. Monitor loyalty rewards

Information entered for loyalty programs and rewards are as good as money to cybercriminals, the report said. Users should monitor their accounts for strange activity, use strong passwords, and implement multi-factor authentication.

2. Choose your Wi-Fi with care

Public Wi-Fi networks are easy targets for cybercriminals to steal personal data such as credit card information. Business travellers should try to avoid public networks, if possible, or consider using a VPN.

3. Bring a backup battery

While free USB power charging stations are convenient, cybercriminals are able to download data or install malware via those connections. Users should bring their own battery banks to recharge devices while travelling.

4. Turn off unneeded connectivity

If you don't have to use connectivity, then don't, the report said. Connectivity includes Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and other auto-connecting networks.

5. Shred your tickets

Destroy unnecessary papers like tickets, boarding passes, luggage tags, or hotel receipts that you collect over the course of your trip. Criminals are able to obtain a lot of information from those scraps of paper.

6. Be smart when paying

Try to avoid using debit cards at stores or restaurants, the report said. If using an ATM, business travellers should select one within a bank branch or at an airport, where ATMs are better protected.


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