Urge to connect is putting international travellers at risk: Kaspersky Lab
By Digital News Asia July 5, 2016
- Travellers often have no choice but to connect upon arrival
- But to save roaming charges, many use unsecured public WiFi
THE urge to go online the moment they reach foreign soil sees a high proportion of people connecting to unsecured WiFi networks, thus putting their personal data at risk, according to a study by Kaspersky Lab.
The research, which polled 11,850 people from across Europe, Russia, Latin America, Asia Pacific and the United States, found that cybercrime is commonplace when abroad.
However, as ever more essential travel information, from maps and hotel confirmations to check-in details and boarding passes, is stored online, international travellers often have no choice but to connect upon arrival, the company said in a statement.
Many will be keen to use WiFi rather than risk incurring roaming charges, despite the fact that doing so will expose them to risk, it added.
Upon leaving the airport, nearly half of us (44%) are already online, with most (69%) connecting in order to let family and loved ones know they have arrived safely and nearly four-in-10 (39%) saying they connect mainly to download travel information.
Pressure from work (38%) is also a strong factor, as is the desire to get up to speed on social media (34%); 34% state simply that it is instinctive to go online as soon as possible, according to Kaspersky Lab.
People are so used to being connected when they are at home, that when they are abroad, they hardly give a second thought to where they connect, how they connect, or who might be ‘listening’ in, the company said.
82% of respondents connect to unsecured, free-to-use public access WiFi networks in airport terminals, hotels, cafes or restaurants. In addition, 50% forget their connected devices are crammed with highly personal and sensitive information because they use them for other things, such as taking pictures and using maps.
But away from home and trusted networks, the lack of regard for network security plays into the hands of cybercriminals, Kaspersky Lab said – 18% of these travellers have been a victim of cybercrime while away from home, compared to 6% of those who have faced real-life crime.
This is not surprising if you consider the fact that our digital habits barely change while we’re abroad, even though we may be more exposed to unsecure public networks. Around half of the survey’s respondents say they bank (61%) and shop (55%) online over WiFi while abroad.
Vulnerability is also increased through the things we do more of online while abroad. For example, 13% are more likely to post on social networks when abroad and 14% say they shop online more using their credit card.
“I travel a lot. My business schedule is all about meetings, conferences and negotiations right around the globe. More than 100 flights a year is the norm for me,” said Kaspersky Lab chairman and chief executive officer Eugene Kaspersky (pic).
“And of course I use various public WiFi networks to access the Internet all the time. The first thing I do after connecting to the Net is connect to a VPN or virtual private network (in my case, the Kaspersky Lab VPN), and that is pretty much the best precaution I’d recommend anyone.
“That and of course, keeping all your software, including your security suite, up-to-date and not trusting anyone on the Internet,” he added.
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