Avoid Hackers When Traveling This Holiday Season
Security experts recently discovered passengers using online check-in for British Airways flights were subject to a data hack. Not only do passengers have to be concerned about pilot strikes, but experts found the email link used to connect flyers to the “manage my booking” site was compromised, leaving passenger information vulnerable to being stolen. Details up for grabs include phone numbers, email addresses, and travel itineraries. Researchers at Wandera found the email link was not encrypted, leaving it open for access for those passengers using public WIFI networks and hotspots at hotels and airports. And it’s not just British Airways that’s under the microscope. Earlier this year, 141 airlines had security flaws with their e-ticketing services. All potential airline travelers should be aware of these vulnerabilities, including how to avoid becoming a victim.
Airline travel can be stressful enough, but finding your travel miles are missing or your flight plans have been changed or cancelled without your knowledge can be a nightmare. These are just some of the opportunity’s that hackers have when they intercept your PII (personally identifiable information). The flaw with British Airways was the unencrypted link in the email for check-in services. Those passengers following the link found their PII exposed. While airlines need to get on board with secure services, the responsibility for staying safe currently remains with travelers. Instead of clicking on that link, go directly to the website or app.
Using public WIFI has long been a security weak spot enabling bad actors to steal your PII. Whether it’s travel, online shopping or other activities, it’s safe to assume someone is waiting to grab your PII. There are additional security layers available for using these services.
Here is how to reduce or eliminate the chance of your Personal Identifiable Information ending up in the wrong hands:
- Avoid using public WIFI, especially for completing tasks that involve financial information or passwords to financial accounts. It sends your PII over a network that can easily be intercepted by bad actors.
- Consider using a Virtual Private Network (VPN) to host your online transactions. VPN’s extend a private network when using public networks like WIFI. Your PII is sent and secured as though you’re using a private network.
- Never follow links in an email. It could be a direct route to a hacker website that looks exactly like the website you’re expecting to see. Hackers duplicate websites that ask for and collect your PII. Instead, type in the website address yourself or use a bookmark so you know it’s the real deal and not a fake.
- Use security software for your devices. Anti-virus software can prevent malware and other bugs from being installed on a device. Set it to automatically update so it’s always up-to-date.
- Don’t post your travel plans on social media. Posting details and images of a boarding pass gives hackers enough information to start plotting an attack.
When traveling, there is more to worry about than how much your suitcase weighs. Don’t wait until you get to the airport to do your banking, and be cautious when using public WIFI.