Travel Scam

Evil Twin Travel Scam

You’ve arrived at the airport, checked your bags in and gone through security. Now there’s only the two hour wait until you board the flight. The duty free offers are never what they’re cracked up to be, and the cost of a packet of crisps is double what you’d normally pay in the shops. What to do?

The way in which people travel has undertaken a dramatic shift in the past five years. Taking around mobile devices such as laptops, tablets or smart phones has become the norm, and is no longer just an exclusive club for the dapper looking business men and gadget geeks anymore.

At the airport, lots of people choose to take advantage of the free Wi-Fi hotspots – browsing the internet to kill time, to tie up loose ends and herald the word that you’re about to set off on that much needed holiday to friends and family. Those who like to stay on top of things use banking applications to keep track of finances, and many check their emails for both personal and business purposes. With this new swelling market of mobile internet users, the potential for scammers has grown, and the doors have been opened to many more targets, from tech-loving teenagers to mums on the move.

When arriving in public places such as airports to scan for WiFi hotspots, the computer scans all available networks and will display a number of connections available in the vicinity. Of course many are legitimate, being provided by the airport and cafes within the building, but some may also be what are known as evil twins.

Evil twins are rogue internet access points, posing as real hotspots. They are set up by hackers so you browse the internet through their connection, enabling traffic to be channelled through their computer. However, unlike legitimate websites, they have additional software installed designed to capture all the data from the internet traffic that passes through it.

This means that your activity is visible to them, and the hacker can intercept sensitive information such as cached login credentials for emails, usernames, passwords and other personal information such as photos and home videos stored on the computer. Some cases have even been noted where hackers have been able to get full access to bank accounts and credit card information.

Although it’s especially prevalent at airports, they are also commonly used in hotels experts have warned, and additional tricks have also starting arising to catch people out. Recently, the FBI issued a statement indicating that travellers are especially vulnerable to ID theft as they tend to use more non-secure, risky internet connections in hotels.

Recently, guests who have been attempting to log hotel Wi-Fi services, have been presented with a genuine looking software update popping up on their screen. However, the update is a fake, and when they click through to install the update, instead, malicious software is installed that can capture all their information and even plant a virus on their computer.

It’s a worrying reality of how much information is stored on peoples’ computer and mobile devices, and it’s a treasure trove for hackers wanting to commit fraud.

To reduce the chances of you falling victim, you should:

– Consider visiting information desks at airports and hotels, to find out the name of its official internet service so you know to only trust that network.

– Don’t allow any updates to be installed whilst browsing the internet over unsecured networks such as hotel WiFi services and airport hotspots, even if it looks legitimate.

– If you can avoid entering banking and personal information, then do so.

– Have a good internet security program installed on your computer and make sure it’s up to date before leaving home.

Where to watch out: Airports and hotels around the world.

Date posted: 18th August, 2012

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