Always book flights and hotels directly from a trusted source, and handle online payments cautiously, experts warn – KT file
One of the best ways to avoid a holiday scam is to always be on the lookout for suspicious deals that look unrealistically cheap – if it is too good to be true, it most likely is
Cybercriminals tend to operate in droves over the summer period, hoping to cash in on Internet users that fail to identify their well-hidden scamming tactics.
Nicolai Solling, chief technology officer at Help AG, says that it is very important for residents across the UAE to remember this fact, given that the summer of 2022 is set to be the busiest travel season ever, with millions of people around the world preparing for a fulfilling getaway. “With residents in the UAE looking forward to booking their next holiday, extra caution is advised to guard against the risk of scamsters and cybercriminals ruining any travel memories.”
Ironically, he said that smart security begins even before travellers set one foot outside their doors. “It all starts with travellers securing their homes while they are away on a vacation. Travellers must exercise caution while posting pictures that reveal their travel itineraries – this can invite burglars to houses that are left unattended.”
It is imperative to invest in a secure, cloud-based home monitoring and smart security system that deters any possible break-in attempts, he cautioned. This could be accessed from smartphones for travellers to monitor their homes whenever they want.
A secure internet connection should also be ensured. Although most airports, cafes and tourist spots offer free Wi-Fi, travellers should think twice before connecting to the first network they can find and restrict their devices from automatically linking to nearby networks. Cybercriminals set up fake networks with very convincing names to gain access to sensitive information, including login credentials, emails, and messages.
“Travellers should also be careful about social engineering scams that exploit email, text, and social media – where attackers try to steal a tourist’s credentials through phishing campaigns that pretend to be from an airline, credit card company, or tourism authority,” Solling added.
Using this method, scamsters try to convince travellers of an impossibly good deal, redirect them to a seemingly ‘trusted’ platform, send fake confirmation links or pose as officials corresponding for a travel agency, hotel, or an airline booking. Other devious social engineering methods include using a legitimate travel site for listings to lure travellers into a fake transaction.
However, Solling assured travellers that the full spectre of such threats doesn’t mean that they should abandon any potential travel plans that they may have. “Key measures we recommend to stay safe while travelling this summer include always booking flights and hotels directly from a trusted source, and handling online payments cautiously.”
He added: “One of the best ways to avoid a holiday scam is to always be on the lookout for suspicious deals that look unrealistically cheap – if it is too good to be true, it most likely is. Users should also avoid clicking on suspicious or dubiously spelled websites – hover the mouse cursor over the link to see its preview instead. In addition, travellers should obtain a number or an email address for customer support for any travel-related queries from a legitimate page of the vendor, after verifying its identity.”
“By applying due diligence and best practices, travellers can protect themselves from bad actors so that their dream getaway doesn’t turn into a nightmare,” he stated.