How You Can Get Compromised While Traveling

How You Can Get Compromised While Traveling

While you travel, malware can infect your device. There are no two ways about it, getting infected with malicious software is the last thing you want happening to your computer, smartphone, tablet, or any other device you take with you while traveling. Of course, most of us who travel either for pleasure or work take at least one smart device with us. Some travelers have multiple devices that can be compromised in several ways.

Furthermore, malware can compromise all of the sensitive and system data on your devices. While traveling, this is an especially prominent scenario as none of us have time to think about our device privacy or device security. Instead, we have to rush through airports, get in taxis, go through security, and much more while our devices are silently compromised, tracked, or hacked in the background. As a result of the travel rush, our devices are usually left unattended and become susceptible to all sorts of malware and cybercrime that lurks in populated public areas.

Because traveling pulls away our focus from our device security, cybercriminals and malware authors know this and try to exploit this situation to the best of their ability. After all, ROI or Return on Investment is a cyber criminals modus operandi. With millions of people going through airports, hotels, public transportation, and more, there is ample opportunity for your devices and sensitive data to be compromised. Most often, cybercriminals are looking to steal financial information. For instance, the best deal a cybercriminal could get is to compromise a wealthy businessman’s devices during his or her travels. Other times, high-value targets like journalists and politicians who travel can be a victim of hijacking, keylogging, espionage, and much more.

Now, let’s look into exactly how your devices could get compromised while traveling and what steps you can take to stop this from happening in as efficient a way as possible.

How Can Your Devices Get Compromised While Traveling?

Let’s put forth a typical scenario. A wealthy businessman and his family are traveling. This means that multiple devices are coming along with this family. The family needs to get to the airport, and on the airplane to reach their destination. Once the destination is reached, the family will need to stay at e.g. a hotel. This route presents multiple opportunities for compromise. Some of these paths are;

  • Device hijacking via unsecured WiFi hotspots
  • Snooping or sniffing of devices en route
  • Phishing, smishing, and vishing scams
  • Ransomware attacks
  • Cryptocurrency jacking
  • Card skimming
  • Rigged charging ports
  • Espionage via malware such as keyloggers and stealers
  • Other infections include viruses, trojans, worms, and more

The list above contains just a few examples of what can happen while traveling. Just think about this, the fact that your devices are constantly geo-locating you as well as looking for an internet connection is enough to cause concern. Without proper cybersecurity tools running on all the businessman’s and the family’s devices, one vulnerable entry point is sufficient to cause havoc.

Let’s look at the above scenario in more depth. Now, the family has reached the airport. The businessman connected his device to a WiFi hotspot masquerading as a legitimate hotspot. However, the hotspot at the airport is fake and is run by cybercriminals. Secondly, the children have gone off and found a charging station for their devices. Third, the businessman’s wife has received a scam email known as a phishing scam. She has input her social security number into the email without thinking twice. The charging station itself is also rigged. Now, what can happen here? First of all, the businessman has entered his financial details in his browser to access his bank account. Now, the cybercriminals behind the hotspot can access his bank account. Secondly, the kids have been connected to a fraudulent charging station, which can also hijack their information and steal the photos and videos on their devices. Third, the phishing scam was successful and now cybercriminals have loaded malware onto the woman’s device.

As you can clearly see, even places like international airports are not safe when it comes to cybersecurity. There is simply too much activity there for security teams to catch up with, so it is up to us to secure our devices with the proper cybersecurity tools. We also need to be armed with cybersecurity best practices.

If that is the case, what can one do? Well, first of all;

  • Download and use a premium VPN or Virtual Private Network at all times
  • Download and use a privacy-focused web browser
  • Download and use a premium antimalware and antivirus software
  • Download and use a premium password manager to store your login information
  • Make sure your passwords are not easy to crack
  • Ensure that you do not share your personal information
  • Do not reply to scam emails or unknown senders
  • Take care when working in a public space
  • Make sure not to do any crypto trading or transactions while on public WiFi

Overall, it doesn’t take much to protect your devices from being compromised while traveling. A premium VPN and a premium anti-malware program will cover most bases so that you can travel unhindered. A VPN will cloak and encrypt the internet connection between your device and any WiFi hotspots. An antimalware program, on the other hand, will block any unsafe websites and warn you about phishing attempts on your devices.

Remember, cybercrime is everywhere these days. This is especially important to understand if you need to access your personal information (such as your cryptocurrency wallet) via the internet in situations where you are traveling or on the move. With a VPN and a good security suite in tow, you will avoid most petty scams and silent cyber attacks. At the end of the day, it is up to you to keep your passwords secure, your devices always updated to the latest version, and watch out for anyone peeking over your shoulder as you work!