The PRIVATE WiFi Blog

Search By Topic:

Popular Topics:



PRIVATE WiFi

The PRIVATE WiFi Blog

News & Features | Jan 6th, 2012

Wifi Hacking and Identity Theft Rise on the Road: How to Protect Yourself When You Travel

Jan Legnitto

When identity theft and fraud expert John Sileo traveled to Florida to give a speech to the Treasury Department on avoiding ID theft, he wasn’t expecting to become a victim of the crime he’d studied for years. But that’s exactly what happened.

According to USA Today, after spending the day at Disney World with his daughter, Sileo returned to his hotel to learn that his bank had suspended his credit card because a thief had used it to go on a $3,000 online spending spree. Sileo, a consultant for the identity protection provider CSID, told USA Today that he suspects the culprit used a smartphone to take a snapshot of his credit card number at Disney World’s electronic ticket booth.

Why ID Theft Is Easier to Commit on the Road

What happened to John Sileo proves that anyone can become a victim of America’s fastest growing consumer crime. In 2010, the Federal Trade Commission received over 250,000 complaints about identity theft – almost one fifth of the total number of complaints received by the agency.  What’s more, business and vacation travelers face even greater challenges protecting their personal data.  That’s because folks on the road rely more heavily on wireless devices that can be hacked or lost.  And they’re often distracted or disoriented when they’re away from home, making them ideal targets for data thieves.

Last year, we filed a Freedom of Information request with the Federal Trade Commission asking for consumer complaints about Wifi hacking incidents that led to identity theft.  The majority of complaints we got back came from business and vacation travelers.  A trucker, an airline passenger, a Naval reservist training for a Mideast mission and a traveling employee using a company laptop all told the FTC their computers were hacked and their personal information was stolen while  they were using Wifi hotspots.

Data thieves are also getting a lot of help from absent minded folks on the road.  A 2011 study by Credant Technologies, a data protection company, found that travelers lost over 11,748 mobile devices at five of the nation’s busiest airports. Nearly 75% of them were laptops and smartphones.

Thieves Use Online Information to Commit Offline Crimes

Travelers aren’t just losing their wireless devices, they’re broadcasting their travel plans online.  That makes them vulnerable to identity theft before and during the time they hit the road .  In 2011, Experian ProtectMyID commissioned a study which found that one fifth of respondents posted their summer vacation plans on social networking sites.  Even worse, almost 50% between the ages of 18 and 34 updated their travel plans on their social media pages. When data thieves get hold  of information like that, all they need to do is look up travelers’ home addresses online and steal any mail containing information that can be used to commit ID theft.

According to a 2011 State of the Net survey of over 2,000 online households conducted by the Consumer Reports National Research Center, 23%  of active Facebook users didn't know some of their “friends” well enough to feel completely comfortable about their own or their family's security or safety. An additional 6 % admitted to having a friend who made them uneasy about those things.  So why are consumers sharing information online with people they don’t trust?

Not surprisingly, most of the travelers Experian ProtectMyID surveyed stayed connected using public Wifi during their trips.  And that spells trouble.  Wifi hotspots at hotels and airports are hotbeds of activity for hackers. Every time you log in, cyberthieves can access your personal financial information, download malware or read your email. Remember, whether you’re on a business trip or on vacation, hackers mean business. There is no vacation from cybercrime.

How to Protect Your Identity When You Travel

 

∙  Make sure your firewall is turned on and your virus and malware protection are up to date.

∙  Use strong passwords composed of 8 to 20 letters, numbers and symbols.  Use different ones for every site and change them often.

∙  Configure your laptop to let you approve access points before you connect.  Identify Wifi hotspots as “public” which allows your laptop to use more secure network settings.

∙  Disable file and printer sharing and remove sensitive data from your laptop before you travel.

∙  Check to make certain you’re logging into your hotel’s Wifi network, not a fake hotspot designed to steal your personal information.

∙  Don’t pay bills, use credit cards or conduct other financial transactions at Wifi hotspots.

∙  Don’t connect to Wifi hotspots unless you use a virtual private network solution like PRIVATE WiFi™.  VPNs protect your identity by encrypting the information traveling to and from your computer.  That means it’s invisible to hackers.

∙  Follow the Federal Trade Commission’s advice and “get wise to Wifi”: http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/pubs/consumer/alerts/alt193.pdf

Was your identity stolen on the road?  If it was, we’d like to hear what happened to you.  Sharing your story may prevent others from becoming ID theft victims.

 

 

 

Associated Topics:

Associated Topics:

Comments

Related Posts

Cyber Security Training Just As Important at C-Level

Thought Leadership
Eva Velasquez | Mar 24th, 2015

The need for better online safety training to prevent data breaches is a hot topic right now. Coupled with stronger computer and network policies, companies want to prevent the hacking events that leave businesses susceptible to a data breach. While it’s no secret that employees in both the private sector and government service can unintentionally expose organizations to hackers, what is surprising is a report by Wombat Security that shows that 33% of CEOs fell for phishing attacks that led to network access. Why are they falling for this kind of internet activity? Read More

E-filing: The Fastest and Safest Way to File Taxes?

Thought Leadership
Eva Velasquez | Mar 9th, 2015

E-filing your annual return to the IRS offers speed and convenience and when coupled with industry-approved software that can plug in the values for you, a lot of the headaches traditionally associated with doing your taxes are eliminated. However, there are some potential dangers that you should be aware of, such as insecure public WiFi networks and online tax fraud. Read More

FTC Says Hotel WiFi is Dangerous

Thought Leadership
Kent Lawson | Feb 23rd, 2015

Recently, the FTC posted an article on their website stating that hotel WiFi is dangerous and that users should not assume that just because they pay for Internet access that their connection is secure.

We couldn’t agree more. In fact, I have been stating this fact since we launched PRIVATE WiFi nearly five years ago.  This is an important topic because hotel traveler’s rank WiFi access at hotels as the number one amenity that they look for when booking hotel rooms. Read More

Identity Protection: 5 Tips to Stay Mobile Secure in 2015

Thought Leadership
Eva Velasquez | Jan 8th, 2015

Living a mobile lifestyle does not come without risk, especially where your identity is concerned. But staying mobile secure doesn’t have to be complicated. Consider this: 94.2% of identity victims say they are still highly engaged online and via their mobile devices despite having had their personally identifiable information stolen, according to a recent study from The Identity Theft Resource Center.

So how do we stay safe? Just follow these five tips! Read More

X

Thank you for subscribing to our newsletters

Your email has been added to our system. You will be e-mailed shortly with a request to confirm your membership. Please make sure to click the link in that message to confirm your subscription.