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The latest research from Kaspersky Lab shows that consumers are endangering themselves and their data because they are letting their guard down abroad. From drinking alcohol, to using risky Wi-Fi connections, and handing their smartphones over to strangers, the research highlights the perils of consumer traveling habits, with two fifths (42%) admitting they are less secure in how they connect on holiday, compared to how they connect when they travel for business.
In a survey of 11,850 people worldwide, Kaspersky Lab has unearthed an overriding desperation among travelers to be connected, casual attitudes towards data security, and an inclination towards risky behavior, is putting them at increased risk of cyber-attacks.
The research shows many of us are careless with our connected devices abroad. A quarter (28%) have left them unsupervised (such as on a table or in a meeting room), and one in five (19%) have left them with hotel concierges – rising to as many as two in five Americans on both scores.
Photo opportunities also drive such risky practice, with 18% of us – and one in four under-25s – more likely to hand our smartphones over to passing strangers when abroad, to take a photo.
The report findings suggest that when we are in ‘holiday mode’, our behavior is often erratic, and highly risky. Many say they are more likely to contact people they don’t know (18%), and engage in ‘sexting’ (6%) while abroad. The survey also finds 15% drink more when abroad, rising to 29% of Brits.
Many of us do not consider how we connect, nor whom might be ‘listening’ in when we are abroad. Most (82%) choose unsecured public Wi-Fi abroad wherever possible, such as in airport terminals, hotels and cafes. Indeed, many of us make it a habit – 28% use public Wi-Fi abroad more readily than at home – and 18% taking no special precautions at all to stay safe online.
A third (33%) admit to visiting websites of sensitive nature on foreign Wi-Fi. In addition, almost half conduct online banking (48%) and shopping online (46%) when they are abroad. And alarmingly, a third (35%) admit to having made confidential calls in public on the grounds language is a barrier to understanding, and therefore a guard against data security.
Such behavior is catching us out – of those consumers who have been hit by a cyberattack while abroad, around one in five had no idea of its origin.
“It is natural to want to relax on holiday, but too often our guard drops completely when connecting to the Internet, and our better judgment seems to put its feet up, and kick back. Should we connect? Should we post on social media? Yes, of course – but we advise users to take extra precautions when they do this abroad. Make sure you are being cyber-savvy and put measures in place to protect yourself and your data,” says Elena Kharchenko, Head of Consumer Product Management, Kaspersky Lab.