Every September 27, travelers celebrate International World Tourism Day. The tourism landscape has changed immensely since the first such celebration in 1980, with the Internet becoming inevitable for travelers and travel agents. According to the World Tourism Organization (UNTWO), in 2018 84 percent of travelers booked their holiday through bundling sites like Expedia or Kayak instead of contacting hotels and airlines. This counts for 1.176 billion travelers.
Most travelers would agree that the Internet is an essential part of traveling in 2019. For example, 82 percent of travel bookings in 2018 were done online, without any human interaction. “People go on various websites to buy their flights, book a hotel, and rent a car. To do this, they must enter their credit card details and ID information, disclosing their most sensitive data,” says Daniel Markuson, a digital-privacy expert at NordVPN. “The Internet allows people around the world to plan their travels conveniently," he continues, "however, it can also put them at various risks,”
The global travel industry by now being dependent on the Internet, no one is protected from security breaches. But there are steps that we can take to protect ourselves from hackers while on vacation. Markuson identifies five main online challenges for travelers and provides tips on how to overcome them.
Scammers use fake travel websites and holiday packages to attract people with extremely good prices. Then when customers try to book the deals and enter their credit card details, their data is hacked. To prevent this from happening, look for the signs. Fake travel deals usually require an advance payment without a written agreement. They also do not specify the airline and hotel names and frequently use words such as “complementary” and “free.” Thus before booking a cheap vacation, always look for these signs and check the website reviews on the Internet.
Another technique that scammers use to trick travelers is fake emails which look completely legitimate. Such emails ask to confirm various details, invite to join online competitions, suggest cheap travel deals, or pretend to give something for free. Also, scammers may send phishing emails asking people to pay a speeding fine for a rental car or otherwise risk a lawsuit.
Travelers may get fooled as they do not always check the email address and credentials of the seemingly legitimate travel service provider. To avoid this, always check the sender’s email address, official website, design elements, grammar mistakes, etc. If in doubt, better call your agency and ask if they have really sent you this email.
As mobile data costs much more abroad, most tourists use public Wi-Fi spots. Unfortunately, they are among the biggest threats to travelers’ sensitive information. Hackers often engage in "side-jacking," connecting to a public network and tracking everything that other network users are doing online. This way travelers may provide hackers with their social media accounts, photos, passwords, and banking details. The best way to avoid this is to install a reliable VPN, like NordVPN, which would reroute your internet data through an encrypted virtual tunnel.
When you go abroad, you may not be able to access your favorite online content, streaming websites, or various social media platforms. That is either because some countries ban certain websites for political reasons, or because some websites allow their content exclusively to people in certain parts of the world. For example, China restricts access to various social media websites, Google Maps and some other websites that are useful for traveling. Installing a VPN on your device would be a solution to this problem. A good-quality VPN service, such as NordVPN, will allow you to access banned online content.
Many travelers are eager to post their vacation photos on social media. While it may be tempting to update your friends and family on your happy moments, that may also put you at various risks. Hackers and other criminals may take note of your absence to target you and break into your house while you are far away. So it’s better to wait until you get back home to post your travel moments. You can also send your vacation pictures to your loved ones privately.
So with a little forethought and prudence, you can take advantage of the best the Internet has to offer regarding travel, and avoid the pitfalls and dangers.