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Avoid being a target for cyber criminals this holiday

10 April 2019

Every year, the Australian Cyber Security Centre receives reports of travellers being targeted by cybercriminals looking to gain from stealing personal and sensitive online information.

Scammers set up very convincing fake versions of websites to trick people into handing over their personal details and booking accommodation or travel deals that don’t exist. They’ll even send scam emails or post on social media about heavily discounted, or free, travel packages to trick you into handing over your credit card details.

Follow these tips to stay safe online in the lead up to and during the upcoming holiday break.

Before you travel

  • Travel light – take only essential devices with you, that are easy to carry at all times.
  • Use your device’s automatic update feature to install new application and operating system updates as soon as they’re available.
  • Back up your data at home using your preferred, secure, trusted network.
  • Research and download the apps you’ll need from trusted providers.
  • Password-protect your devices – enable password protection, preferably with two-factor authentication.
  • Disable Wi-Fi and network ‘auto join’ functions. This will prevent devices from inadvertently connecting to untrusted networks en route or at your destination. Leave Bluetooth turned off or in undiscoverable mode (hidden) when you’re not using it.
  • Avoid email-based travel scams – watch out for fake confirmation and other phishing emails that appear to be official, using logos or email addresses that imitate the real thing.
  • Inform your bank of your travels – keep an eye on your accounts for unusual or fraudulent activity or transactions and report them to your bank immediately.
  • Research email senders or service providers and beware of travel ‘prizes’ in suspicious links or attachments. Visit Scamwatch for more tips when making accommodation, travel insurance and other travel-related purchases online.

While you’re away

  • Keep your devices with you at all times – avoid leaving devices unattended in luggage (including checked-in baggage), hotel safes and phone lockers. You may also enable location-tracking to assist recovery in the event your device is lost or stolen.
  • Use public Wi-Fi wisely – public Wi-Fi networks are unsecured and other people may be able to see what you're doing when you use them. If you can, avoid sending or receiving valuable or sensitive information when you're connected to public Wi-Fi in internet cafes, hotels or public places, whether you’re travelling domestically or overseas. Otherwise, be prepared: make sure you activate international roaming when overseas, and use cellular connectivity, instead of Wi-Fi.
  • Enable the remote locking and/or wiping functions, if your device supports them.  There are several tracking apps which can help you find your device if it is lost or stolen. These apps can also help you remotely lock or erase your device.
  • Don’t click on a link in any unsolicited email or SMS message – if you have any doubts about a message check directly with the sender using contact details from legitimate sources such as official websites.

When you return home we recommend you reset your passwords.

More information

Stay Smart Online provides a range of guidance for individuals, whether you’re at home or travelling, including:

Need help? Think you might be the victim of a scam, cybercrime or identity theft? Find out more about how to get help from cyber.gov.au