This summer, many people will be embarking on vacations and leaving their situational awareness at home. The truth is, travelers face extra cybersecurity risks, threats, and vulnerabilities, because many cybercriminals prey on unsuspecting victims while they’re away from home or preparing for a trip. don’t take vacations. Sometimes you need dad’s voice reminding you to stay vigilant, especially when you’re on the road and in the skies during the summer holiday.
You Think I’m Made of Money?
The costs of cyberattacks are rising dramatically, and up to 80% of the cost attributed to them is a result of human error and plain old human behavior—not technology.
The US budget for fiscal year 2019 earmarks $15 billion for cyber security-related activities, which is a 4% increase from 2018— with a new stipulation that this amount doesn’t even represent the entire cyber budget! The Department of Defense gets the most funding with nearly $8.5 billion in the budget, but the runner-up is Homeland Security with roughly $1.7 billion. Hackers can affect us individually and they can affect us on a national level, which has economic ripple effects in every corner of society.
While you’re spending money on vacation this summer, remember what a cyberattack can cost you.
Fair?! You Want Fair?!
No, it’s not fair that you didn’t actually win that free vacation you totally deserve. But life isn’t fair! So, don’t fall for one of the many You-Won-A-Free-Vacation online scams. Be skeptical if you run into any of these red flags when it comes to prizes, free vacations, or other sweepstakes and online travel bait:
- If you “won a free vacation!” check to see if you have to pay some fees first. What kind of prize is it if you have to pay a price?
- If the so-called prize company needs your credit card number to verify your identity or some other reason, it’s probably not a real opportunity.
- If you receive a cold call, random text, or email from someone you don’t know and out of the blue they offer you something free or amazing-sounding, beware. You normally aren’t rewarded free money out of nowhere, are you?
- If the individual or company can’t or won’t give you specifics about your free vacation, it’s probably not real. The more vague the promises, the less likely they are to be true. And of course, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
- If you’re heavily pressured to sign up now or else, it’s a signal to walk away. If you’re still unsure though, search online by entering the company name and the word “complaints” or “scam”.
Do You Want to End Up Like Those People?
Having your bank account hacked or your identity stolen is a nightmare. It can even ruin your life for a little while, or feel like it. Nearly 60 million Americans were affected by identity theft in 2018. If you don’t want to be one of those people this summer, remember these basic cybersecurity tenets:
- Listen to security warnings, even when they are repetitive and easy to ignore
- Don’t click on suspicious links, or attachments you weren’t expecting
- Follow through on installing the updates your device wants you to install
- Update and change your passwords
Use Your Common Sense
Device security is critical because you probably use them and rely on them more heavily when traveling, often in new locations which may not be secure. Stay vigilant when it comes to your mobile devices, and remember:
- Do not use public Wi-Fi. Airports coffee shops, and other public locations with public Wi-Fi is low-hanging fruit for attackers to intercept sensitive information, like credit card transactions.
- Turn off your Bluetooth when you’re not using it, because Cyber criminals have the capability to pair with your phone's open Bluetooth connection and steal personal information.
- Charge with caution. Connecting your mobile device to any computer or charging station that you do not control, such as a charging station at an airport terminal or a shared computer at a library, is a big mistake.
Tell You What We’re Going to Do
So, what if after all that, you get hacked? If you think your credit card information has been stolen you should call the bank, store, or credit card company that owns your bank account as soon as possible. Reporting fraud in a timely manner helps to minimize the impact and lessen your personal liability. Change your account passwords for any online services associated with your devices.
If you are the victim of identity theft, additional information is available from https://www.idtheft.gov/.
If you’ve been victimized by an online scam, report your suspicious contacts to the FBI. You can file an online report at the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center at www.ic3.gov or call your FBI local office.
If you have a complaint about a potential scam, file it online or call 1-877-FTC-HELP. Complaints about scams help the Federal Trade Commission and other law enforcement agencies bring scam artists to justice and put an end to unfair and misleading business practices.
I’m Not Lost
Don’t be afraid to ask for help. You don’t have to feel lost or alone when it comes to cybersecurity, because there are resources and services to help you. The Cybersecurity and Information Security Agency (CISA) encourages travelers to review tips and tricks to keep their vacations cyber-safe, and to understand how and when to act if something unusual happens.
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Ask Your Mother
If you’re still in doubt, do what dads do when all options are exhausted: Go ask your mother!
You can also visit us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call us at 877-624-3771 for more information on how to use technology to stay safe.