Hackers are at it again, and their attacks are coming faster than ever. In Q1 of this year alone, malicious software threats hit a 4-year high as McAfee detected 8 million new types.
Business travelers are often the target of hackers’ attacks, since they typically access the Internet over unsecured WiFi networks in places like airports and hotels.
It’s not just credit card numbers the cyber criminals are after - the FBI recently warned American "government, private industry, and academic personnel” traveling abroad about a scheme to steal sensitive corporate information or intellectual property via malware attacks over hotel WiFi networks.
Hackers use a pop-up window notifying users to download an update to a popular software program; once the unsuspecting user clicks the link, the thieves gain control over the laptop or mobile device and all of the data on it. Privacy screens won’t protect you from this kind of security threat - learn how to keep your data safe while overseas.
Beware of WiFi. Most security breaches happen when travelers are using free WiFi. Hackers can easily steal personal or company data from your computer or mobile device, like bank account information or corporate strategy documents. Protect yourself from data loss by not conducting sensitive business until you have a secure Internet connection when you arrive at your destination.
Be on the offensive. Proactively fend off hacker attacks by practicing good tech “hygiene”. It’s recommended that you change your password before and after the trip (don’t use passwords you use on any other account, business or personal); update software and apps prior to your trip, especially anti-virus software; and encrypt any highly sensitive files so they’re further protected if someone does hack your device.
Check before you click. On your laptop, hover over links to see if it’s a valid URL and not spam before you click on it. This is harder to do on a mobile device - if possible, wait until you’re on a laptop or desktop computer to check links that are at all questionable.
The latest hacking scheme targeting travelers is a fake U.S. Airways (LCC) email phishing scam where phony “web check-in” emails with the airline’s logo and flight information, including valid confirmation codes, were sent to travelers. The lesson? Don’t click links on autopilot, even if the email looks genuine.