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Fraud and Risk Focus Blog

How to stay safe and secure online when you’re on holiday

1 August 2018

You may have read Get Safe Online’s range of advice on researching and booking holidays, and other travel, safely and securely. But have you thought about how to keep yourself protected online while you’re away?

Whether it’s the annual family holiday or a short break, whether you’re basking in the sunshine or enjoying the snowy slopes, it can be easy to forget that your online safety is as important as your sunscreen or goggles. But we have some simple advice to help ensure that when it comes to being online, you’re as safe when you’re away as you are at home.

Look after your mobile devices

The great thing about smartphones and tablets is that they’re small and portable. The downside to this is that they’re easy to lose – and easy for someone to steal. The consequences of this happening in your own country are bad enough, but if you’re abroad, you face additional inconvenience, expense and, often, upset.

When you’re out and about – especially in city centres – keep your phone or tablet close to you and get it out only when you have to, and in a safe place, to answer a message or check the map. Don’t leave it unattended in cafes, bars or public transport, and if there isn’t a safe in your hotel room, we recommend you take it out with you.

Also, remember that apartments, villas, ski lodges or caravans all make attractive targets for thieves, so take care here as well.

Using Wi-Fi hotspots abroad

When you’re on holiday, just like when you’re at home, there’s nothing easier and more convenient than being able to connect to Wi-Fi in your hotel room, a café or a bar. You can keep up with your friends, check the news, catch up on your email (or not, you’re meant to be relaxing!) and check your bank account.

But have you considered if that Wi-Fi hotspot is secure? And what information you might be revealing inadvertently?

If you’re doing anything private online such as banking, paying for something, logging into a shopping site or confidential email – our advice is: don’t do it using a Wi-Fi hotspot. Instead, use your data (remember, roaming is cheaper these days) or a mobile dongle.

This is because, when using Wi-Fi hotspots you have no guarantee that the connection is secure, so there’s a chance that it could be eavesdropped on or hijacked. Even if you need a code or your email to log on, it’s not worth the risk.

Posting holiday updates on social media

When you’re having a great time on holiday, there’s nothing quite like sharing it with posts and photos on your favourite social media platform, right?

The problem is though, you can never be sure who’s going to see what you’ve posted and, these days, social media has become the best friend of both burglars and fraudsters.

Advertise the fact that your home is unoccupied – even if it’s only for a weekend break – and you’re risking having it broken into. This isn’t uncommon, and even high-profile celebrities have fallen victim. Insurance companies are now refusing to pay out if they find you’ve posted that you’re away, so surely this, combined with the thought that somebody could be going through all your belongings while you’re away, will make you think twice.

We mentioned fraudsters using social media too, and this one affects your workplace. It’s become commonplace for fraudsters to combine the fact that you’re away on holiday with other snippets gained on LinkedIn or a sly phone call to defraud your business. They’ll impersonate a supplier, the bank, HMRC or – if you’re a senior exec, you – to extract money out of an unwitting colleague. You can only begin to imagine the consequences.

Stay safe online when you’re away

We want to you relax and enjoy your break and be able to enjoy your online experience seamlessly and safely while you’re away. Following this practical holiday advice and the other online safety basics on the Get Safe Online website, that shouldn’t be a problem.

Have a great holiday!

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We are aware that an individual using the email address mike.haley@cifas-uk.org is posing as Cifas CEO Mike Haley. We can confirm this email is not legitimate and we have reported the matter to police.