Cyber criminals try to spoil tourists' holidays

G DATA provides tips for digital security on holiday: how to effectively protect smartphones, tablets and notebooks.

07/25/2014 | Bochum 

On the beach, in the mountains, or on a city break – smartphones, tablets and notebooks have long been a staple of the holiday packing list. Even on holiday people prefer to be online rather than offline. Whether posting photos, checking weather reports and email or looking for excursion and restaurant tips – Internet use is no problem in many holiday destinations. WLAN is often a standard facility in hotels or holiday accommodations. More and more cafés, bars and restaurants are using free Internet access to lure people in as well. More than two-thirds of German holidaymakers take smartphones along for the ride (source: Internet World). Yet many mobile devices are inadequately protected and are therefore an easy target for cyber criminals. Security experts at G DATA warn against using unprotected WLAN networks and manipulated PCs at holiday destinations and offer tips for digital security when on a trip.


Mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets are certainly practical holiday companions, but they contain a great deal of personal information such as passwords, photos and contact data. This represents a risk, as these digital companions are often inadequately secured. Cyber thieves know this as well, and they have no trouble stealing data and devices.

"Cyber criminals are currently focusing more and more on holiday hotspots. They prey on users who cannot do without the Internet when on holiday," warns G DATA security expert Eddy Willems.


Avoid online banking when on holiday

Popular targets are public computers in Internet cafés and free hotspots in airports and hotels. Such access points are rarely adequately secured, so criminals can easily read data traffic and spy on credit card information, passwords and other personal data. These are monetized in special underground forums or misused for other criminal activities. For this reason tourists should avoid online banking and shopping at all costs. Anyone wanting to send holiday greetings should ideally use a separate email address so that, if the access data gets stolen, the regular email account is not affected.

Secure mobile devices properly

To prevent the best weeks of the year from ending in eCrime frustration, it is important to start comprehensively securing notebooks, tablets and smartphones before your trip. "Before going on holiday, users should bring their mobile device fully up-to-date and install all available updates. This will close vulnerabilities that criminals could otherwise exploit for attacks," advises Willems. Furthermore, holidaymakers should check their files before they set off, to see whether all the stored data is required for the holidays, and back it up at home on an external storage medium.


Locate and lock devices

To fend off pickpockets as well as cyber criminals, security software needs to be installed that includes anti-theft protection. In the event of loss, the user has the option of locating and locking the lost or stolen device. The contents can also be remotely deleted if required.



Tips for a secure holiday at a glance:

Before going away:

  • Install security software: Holidaymakers should install an effective, comprehensive security solution on their notebook, smartphone or tablet, for example G DATA security solutions such as ANTIVIRUS, INTERNET SECURITY and TOTAL PROTECTION or G DATA INTERNET SECURITY FOR ANDROID.
  • Make sure software is fully up-to-date: Before going away, the installed operating system and all software used should be brought fully up-to-date. This will close vulnerabilities that criminals could otherwise exploit for attacks.
  • Activate anti-theft protection: Users should take precautions in case the device is lost and install security software that includes anti-theft protection. This enables the device to be located and locked remotely and all data stored on it to be deleted. With notebooks, the hard disk should be encrypted, leaving no opportunity for thieves to read the stolen data.
  • Set up an email account for holiday greetings: Anyone wanting to send an electronic postcard to friends and family back home should set up a separate email account. In the event of an attack, only this is compromised, and the address can be deleted when you get home.
  • Back up data: Before going away, create a backup copy of all stored data on an external storage medium.
  • Note blocking numbers: Holidaymakers should note down the service numbers for their mobile phone operator and credit and EC card providers. Bank cards, surf sticks or mobile devices can be blocked immediately in the event of loss.


When on holiday:

  • Avoid public WLAN networks: Use of free hotspots at airports, stations and hotels should be avoided where possible, as they are often inadequately secured. Holidaymakers should use a UMTS card for mobile surfing instead.
  • Take care in Internet cafés: Public computers are generally inadequately secured, so holidaymakers should specifically avoid online banking and shopping on the Internet, and not download or save any personal data. Otherwise criminals can hack this data and use it for illegal purposes.
  • Leave pickpockets no opportunity: Ideally mobile devices should never be lent out or placed in the hands of others when on holiday. Users should avoid taking their smartphone, tablet or notebook with them to the hotel pool or beach – thieves are on the lookout for unsuspecting tourists.
  • Disable wireless networks: Wireless connections such as WLAN, Bluetooth or NFC should only be used when they are actually needed, as they leave a device open to attack.
  • Disable data connections: With smartphones, establishing data connections when abroad (roaming) or close to international borders should be disabled, so data is not received via an expensive foreign operator. Some apps send and receive data in the background, so a high transfer volume can take place without being noticed.