With the UK lifting lockdown restrictions, trips abroad are back on the agenda. So there’s no better time to offer a reminder about the dangers posed by holiday hackers. Whether you’re surfing the web by the beach or checking social media in the supermarket, we’ve investigated how criminals target tourists and offered our top tips to stay safe online this summer.
What are the most common kinds of cyber-attack?
Hackers have developed various tricks and methods to steal personal information from victims. So, as you head out on holiday this summer, take care to avoid falling into their trap. We’ve explained three common kinds of cyber-attack you might experience.
Phishing is a common technique used by hackers to trick unsuspecting people into sharing sensitive data such as credit card details, email addresses, and passwords. They achieve this by sending a convincing email, text, or message, pretending to be a reliable address (such as your bank) and asking you to reply with personal information.
Social engineering is another tactic often employed by hackers to force you to share private and sensitive data. They’ll send urgent and fearful messages to scare victims into exposing personal information, which can be used to steal identities.
Your smartphone or laptop will often automatically connect to a network you’ve previously used. However, hackers have managed to use this to their advantage, to perform something called spoofing. Essentially, they’ll set up a new network using the same SSID (router name), masquerading as a safe connection. If you connect, the hacker can access all incoming and outgoing traffic running through your device.
Top tips for staying cyber-safe this summer
When going on holiday, it’s crucial to be aware about how to maintain cyber security. To give you a helping hand, we’ve outlined our top tips for staying safe:
1. Confirm your social media privacy settings
A simple way to improve cyber safety and prevent identity fraud online is to ensure your social media privacy settings are set appropriately. This means making sure only people you trust can see your updates and ‘public’ information. Also, take care not to reply to or send sensitive information to people you don’t know and trust.
2. Be cautious about unsolicited messages
Phishing attacks target you by posing as somebody you would otherwise be inclined to trust, asking for personal data and login details. If you receive messages out of the blue, treat them with caution. Refrain from clicking on links or replying until you’re certain they are who they say they are.
3. Update your passwords regularly
Passwords are your first protection against hackers, stopping them from accessing your digital data and stealing your personal information. That's why it's so important you make your passwords strong and difficult to guess, taking care to avoid common phrases and obvious personal details. For an even safer online experience, use a different password for each website you log into, and update your details regularly.
4. Be careful browsing on public Wi-Fi
When connecting to free Wi-Fi abroad (and at home for that matter), whether that be at a café, supermarket, or airport, it’s important to remember that you’re sharing a public connection. With potentially thousands of people connecting to the hotspot each day, there’s no better opportunity for a hacker to steal personal credentials, payment information, and security numbers. The easiest way to stay safe is to simply try and avoid accessing these public hotspot points.
5. Confirm your wireless connection
The easiest way to avoid falling victim to ‘spoofing’ is to simply steer away from using public Wi-Fi access points that might become easy targets. Sticking to private networks means you can take more control over your privacy. You can ensure the SSID is unique, and the default password has been changed.
Restrictions may be lifting over summer, but don’t let your guard down when it comes to cyber security. For even more helpful guidance around staying safe online, check out our blog.