How much do you care about networking when you're traveling?

2024, Apr 22

Traveling to new destinations not only offers a different getaway and the chance to explore, but it also means facing the ever-growing gloss of cybercrime. Interacting with today's diverse cultures and landscapes requires vigilance against digital threats that can disrupt the peace of any vacation.

According to VPN RICE's survey of 8,000 respondents from the US, UK, Germany and France, 7% of travelers have experienced a cybercrime incident during their trip. Although this number may not seem high, the impact of these incidents is not small. We're talking about serious issues like unauthorized banking transactions or personal data breaches, which can have long-term consequences beyond the leave period.
This raises an important question for you, the traveler: how do you protect your online activity while on the road? Read on to see the results of our survey.
Holiday cybercrime: a growing threat
Why travelers are especially vulnerable to cyberattacks

Deals that are too good to be true: The excitement of discovering a vacation or accommodation package at a special deal often causes people to lose their ability to make rational decisions. Fraudsters recognize this and make irresistible offers, capitalizing on the universal desire to get the best deal possible.
Use public Wi-Fi: Easily connect to free Wi-Fi in hotels, cafes or tourist attractions at your convenience. However, these networks are often insecure, opening the door for cybercriminals to intercept your traffic.
Increased online activity: When you travel, your Internet usage can increase dramatically—book flights, book accommodation, or check your bank account while you're on the go. This increase in online activity, especially on unsecured networks, can lead to a higher risk of falling victim to scams.
Let your guard down: The thrill of exploring a new place can make you lose sight of your usual online safety measures. Many travelers, drawn in by this feeling, may be oblivious to online risks, engaging in online behaviors they would normally avoid at home.
Target of cybercriminals: Tourists are often targeted by cybercriminals due to the increase in risky behavior as mentioned above.
Cybercrime nearly equals physical crime around the holidays
Traditionally, travelers are advised to watch out for physical dangers such as pickpockets or hotel room theft, which affected 10% of survey participants. However, the threat from cybercrime is not far away, with a notable 7% of travelers experiencing hacks or digital scams while on holiday. These incidents were slightly higher among American travelers.
Financial fraud leads to cybercrime incidents among tourists
Respondents reported financial crimes including credit card fraud and digital payments such as Google Pay and Apple Pay as the main digital-related issues affecting travelers their vacation schedule. This problem is especially evident for tourists from the UK and France: 49% of cybercrime victims in the UK and France reported experiencing financial fraud while on holiday. This figure compares with 39% of victims in the US and 29% of victims in Germany.

However, while cash-related digital fraud figures prominently at an average rate of 42% among all travelers surveyed, other forms of cybercrime also significantly impact the experience. vacation experience. Public Wi-Fi snooping affected an average of 33% of respondents — a statistic that highlights the risks associated with using unsecured internet while traveling.
Similarly, 33% of cybercrime victims said their social media accounts had been hacked while traveling, and a similar proportion had received phishing messages (intended to trick users into revealing personal information).
Identity theft is another significant threat, with an average of 29% of traveler cybercrime victims claiming it has happened to them.
Additionally, our findings show that malware infections and ransomware attacks are cybersecurity threats faced by travelers, affecting 26% and 20% of victims, respectively. of cybercrime.
Risk of oversharing on social networks
While the convenience of social media allows us to share our travel adventures in real time, this comes with privacy concerns. Sharing too much information, like where you're going or where you are, can attract unwanted attention. This can make you an easy target for fraud or theft.
While they didn't specify exactly what problems they encountered, according to our survey, 23% of French respondents have experienced privacy problems due to oversharing while traveling—a high among the groups surveyed.
In the US, about 18% of respondents knew someone who had a privacy or security problem due to sharing too much information while traveling, the highest rate among the countries surveyed.
British people have the lowest rate of privacy problems due to oversharing, followed by Germans. This may reflect a more restrictive attitude towards what is shared online, or may be the result of better use of privacy settings on social media platforms.
European tourists fear cybercrime in the US
We asked European travelers from the UK, Germany and France which areas they are most worried about cybercrime when traveling on holiday. Among the top regions of concern, the US stands out along with other popular vacation destinations such as Türkiye, Mexico and Brazil. (Survey respondents were asked to choose from the United Nations list of the 50 most popular countries for international travel in 2022.)

However, is there any basis for these fears? To understand the validity of these concerns, we need to consider the cybersecurity landscape of these destinations. The United States indeed boasts a robust cybersecurity infrastructure. In fact, a recent report by TechRadar ranked the United States among the safer countries in terms of cybersecurity for travelers.
Additionally, South Africa is the 13th most worrisome destination according to our survey respondents, however, according to TechRadar, the country has quite a strong cybercrime rate, placing it in the top 20 for cyber safety. .
In contrast, concerns regarding Türkiye, Mexico and Brazil are not unfounded. These countries have reported higher rates of cybercrime incidents, with tourists often falling victim to increasingly sophisticated scams and scams. These countries have higher rates of digital threats and lower cybersecurity measures in place, making travellers' concerns well-founded.
Türkiye in particular faces significant digital threats, from credit card fraud to phishing attacks, making travelers cautious. Egypt and Kazakhstan also share concerns about data privacy issues and risks associated with using public Wi-Fi networks.
Tourists are increasingly cautious

So, how much influence does digital risk have on travel decisions? In our survey, 24% of participants said they would avoid destinations with high levels of cybercrime. This compares with 16% of respondents, who don't hesitate if a location has high cyber threat levels. Meanwhile, 30% of survey participants said they will be more careful when going to such destinations.
American travelers lead the way in cybersecurity confidence and preparedness
With travelers becoming more cautious about cyber threats on vacation, are they really ready for what's happening out there? Americans seem to think so.
US respondents expressed the most confidence and action against cybercrime compared to their European counterparts. Some 21% of them say they are certain they know what to do if they face cyber threats during their holiday, followed by the UK at 18%, France at 16% and Germany is 14%.

Furthermore, Americans also top the list when it comes to taking cybersecurity precautions on vacation. 61% of them take security measures, like using strong passwords and being careful when using public Wi-Fi when leaving home.
The British and French are closely linked, with 48% of people taking precautions, while only 39% of Germans do the same.
Cybersecurity tip: Stay safe from hackers and scammers during the holidays

1. Use VPN
Among survey participants who take cybersecurity precautions while traveling, 31% use a VPN to enhance their digital security. VPNs encrypt your Internet connection, making your online activities unreadable to third parties, including Internet service providers, Wi-Fi administrators, governments, and attackers . This is why VPNs are recommended when using public Wi-Fi in places like airports, hotels, and coffee shops.
2. Protect your device before departure
Among those taking cybersecurity precautions, 33% ensure all their devices and applications are up to date. Before you leave home, make sure all your devices are updated with the latest security patches and antivirus software. This pre-emptive attack on potential vulnerabilities can save you from many headaches later.
3. Turn off the automatic connection feature

Among respondents asked about taking cybersecurity precautions while traveling, 41% said they avoid using public or free Wi-Fi networks to stay safe. While it's possible to automatically connect to Wi-Fi networks you've used before (such as at a coffee shop you recently visited), this increases your risk because those networks may not be confidential. Ideally, you should turn on a VPN when using public Wi-Fi networks.
4. Be careful with public charging stations
Public USB ports can be compromised to install malware on connected devices, a method known as “juice jacking.” Use a portable battery or plug into a power outlet with a charger to avoid this risk. You can also buy a USB data blocker, which allows USB charging without data transfer.
5. Limit sharing on social networks
While it's fun to share every moment of your adventures in real time, doing so can alert potential thieves to your absence and reduce your physical safety. . Delay posting your photos and stories until you get back. Adjust your privacy settings to limit who can see your posts, reducing the risk of them being used for malicious purposes.
6. Choose secure payment
Credit cards and mobile payment apps are often more fraud-resistant than debit cards. Using an RFID blocker can prevent skimming of information from your card. For travel, consider using a special travel credit card, which doesn't charge overseas transaction fees and has strong security features. However, be on the lookout for unexpected charges and carefully examine goods and services before paying with a card.
7. Update information about local scams
Educating yourself about common online scams and scams can be an important step in avoiding becoming a victim, which 28% of respondents said they had done. Researching common forms of fraud in your destination can help you stay informed. Websites and forums like TripAdvisor or Lonely Planet are useful resources for learning about recent traveler experiences and avoiding unwanted situations.

8. Encrypt sensitive data
When you travel and carry important personal data such as medical information on a USB memory stick, this is necessary and wise. However, make sure your data is encrypted for safety. An effective method to achieve this is to use a VPN on your device. This helps protect your data by encrypting all information transmitted through your mobile phone or laptop, preventing third parties from reading your data.
9. Use a password manager
Among those who take cybersecurity precautions when traveling, 41% ensure that all their accounts have strong and unique passwords, while 24% use a password manager. password. By using tools like RICE VPN, you can ensure that your passwords are not only strong and unique, but also securely stored and easily accessible, significantly reducing the risk of unauthorized access to your passwords. your account.
10. Be wary of shoulder surfers
Among travelers who take security precautions, 33% pay attention to their physical security, including the threat from shoulder surfers. Shoulder surfing occurs when an individual surreptitiously observes you as you enter sensitive information, like a PIN at an ATM or a security code on your phone. This is a reminder that digital security is not just an online issue, but also involves paying attention to your surroundings and the information you input.
11. Consider travel insurance
15% of travelers who take cybersecurity precautions say they have purchased travel insurance that includes cybersecurity coverage. Travel insurance with cyber security coverage can provide an extra layer of protection, assisting in the event of digital theft, lost electronic devices or even identity theft.
Scammed or hacked while on vacation? Here's what to do
1. Detect problems early: Signs can include disapproved transactions on your account, sudden loss of access to online records, or sudden warnings from your bank. Timely detection helps you react more effectively.
2.Change your password immediately: If you suspect your account has been compromised, change your password immediately.
3.Notify your bank and card issuer: Contact your bank and card issuer immediately to report fraudulent transactions or stolen cards. They can monitor your account for unusual activity, cancel fraudulent transactions, and reissue a new card if necessary.
4.Report the incident to local authorities: If the incident involves theft or financial fraud, report it to local police authorities. This can assist with insurance claims, fee reimbursements and other issues.
5.Leverage your travel insurance: If you have travel insurance that includes cyber security coverage, contact your provider. They can provide services to minimize damages and compensate for losses.
6.Monitor your accounts: In the weeks and months following the incident, carefully monitor all of your financial and online accounts for any unusual activity.


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