#CyberCrimes: Digital security tips to save you while travelling

2017-09-01 15:44 - Ishani Chetty
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Cape Town -  Card payments and data sharing can put you at risk while travelling as cyber-attacks, phishing scams and data breaches become more frequent and sophisticated. 

According to PCI Security Standards Council General Manager Stephen Orfei, South Africa’s blossoming entrepreneurial landscape has unfortunately seen it become "one of the top ten markets targeted for cyber security weakness" - SEE: Cyber Scams: SA one of the top 10 most targeted countries - Here's what you need to know

But in reality no one is 100% secure from hacking. However there are a few things you can do to prevent your information from being stolen.

Prevention against hackers

Envista forensics data shows there are certain types of hacks and cybercrimes to be aware of, especially while travelling. These include a point of sale compromise, stolen passwords, hacking breaches, malware breaches and social media attacks. And according to Trend Micro, a point of sale compromise - targets thousands of consumer’s credit cards at the same time when used at retail stores.

Their data outlines the following top 10 countries as high-risk for identity theft – including the US, France, and Russian as the top three - but essentially as savvy travellers we should be cautious and sensible all the time.  


The highest recorded reason for security breaches in the world is said to be due to data theft – hackers want to gain personal records and information of digital users - which includes passport details and banking passwords.

READ:7 Ways smartphones have reinvented the way we travel

101 on Protection

Payments while travelling

1. Inform banks and credit card companies of your travels – include locations, dates and any special instructions.

2. Use credit cards only – it is easier to obtain stolen money. In developing countries rather use cash.

3. Change financial passwords – change the password when you leave and immediately when you arrive back from travelling.

4. Purchase a RFID safe wallet – this protects one’s cards from a specific type of hacking. RFID skimming allows hackers to scan cards from a distance for information with a special device. The wallet sleeves protect credit and debit cards from being scanned.  These wallets can be purchased here.

ATM scams that travellers need to be aware of – the first step towards prevention is awareness.

1. Card Skimmers - installed at ATM's that are able to scan cards.

2. Hidden Cameras - a camera placed nearby is able to see the pin digits entered.

3. The ribbon trick - thieves install a ribbon to make it appear that the ATM has swallowed your card. Advised by the by-standing thief to re-enter their pin. The card is not returned and the thief enters the pin once the user has assumed the machine has swallowed their card.

Use Secure Internet

1. Avoid using non-secure internet  - this includes free Wi-Fi connections at restaurants, airports and hotels.

2. Look out for the “S” – the ‘s’ at the end of https stands for secure – ensure that you visit sites with the full https.

3. New mailbox – create a new email address when you travel, avoid using your main email address.

4. Ethernet is better – use a hardwired cable vs Wi-Fi in the hotel for a more secure connection.

Device use

1. Log out and delete – log out of social media accounts when not in use. Delete all banking apps when travelling.

2. Disable Bluetooth or sharing - avoid information being accessed or shared from your device.

3. Extra caution – create two-factor authentication across your devices, tape over laptop cameras if you are concerned there may be a breach and back up all data before travelling.

4. Find my phone – register an account in order to protect or wipe your device clean if it is stolen.

5. Cheaper devices – while travelling purchase a cheaper device to use for communication. You can also install privacy screens on your devices to prevent info from being stolen.

If you use these helpful tips before and whilst travelling, you're more likely to have a stress-free experience than not. Remember, travel safely and securely. 

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