Last minute bargains: How holidaymakers can avoid being scammed

Summer holidays make the tills ring – not least for cyber criminals

07/03/2014 | Bochum 

The online travel market is growing year upon year. In 2014, there is an estimated spend of $446 worldwide for online bookings (source: Statista - Countless bargain hunters are looking for a cheap last minute dream holiday, especially in the run-up to the summer break. Online fraudsters are aware of this too, and every year again they try to make a profit from this trend. Experts at G DATA SecurityLabs expect an increased volume of spam email aimed at Internet users in need of a holiday during the coming weeks. Caution is therefore advised when opening supposed booking confirmations, or unsolicited bogus last minute offers that come floating into the inbox. Many of the emails have been equipped with an infected file attachment, or contain links to dubious websites that lead to malware. G DATA security expert Ralf Benzmüller is aware of the current scams and explains what users should look out for and how they can protect themselves.


Cyber criminals don't go on holiday – as security experts at G DATA have noticed in recent years. But what are they targeting? Bank and credit card data are particularly popular: in special underground forums they are monetized or immediately misused for other criminal activities.

"In addition to using security software, anyone not wanting to fall victim to cyber criminals should keep their entire system fully up-to-date at all times. This last point is usually ignored and frequently enables attackers to infect computers through vulnerabilities in installed programs that have not been mitigated," explains Ralf Benzmüller, head of G DATA SecurityLabs. "Holidaymakers should also thoroughly check online offers and verify the reputation of the provider." Spam emails with holiday offers should generally be deleted. Under no circumstances should recipients open file attachments or click on links. The expert also strongly advises against responding to spam email: "By doing so users are indicating to the criminals that the email address is being actively used."


Tips for booking trips online:

  • Keep your eyes open: Users should check offers carefully and examine the small print. Watch out for any additional costs. Free or cheap offers, in particular, usually come with hidden costs.
  • Check the provider: Travel operators, travel agents, accommodation or airline owners may offer holidays online. In every case, Internet users should check whether the name, the legal form of the company, the name of the authorised representative, the full address, telephone and fax numbers, email address and commercial register number are provided.
  • Straight into the bin: Spam email should be deleted immediately. File attachments or links in messages from unknown senders should never be clicked on.
  • Install updates: The operating system and all software you use should be kept fully up-to-date at all times. This will mitigate vulnerabilities that criminals can exploit.
  • Install a security solution: Using a comprehensive security solution is highly recommended. In addition to virus protection, the security software should also include real-time protection when surfing and a spam filter.