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The US Is World’s ‘Riskiest’ Cybersecurity Holiday Destination

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelance and long standing contributor to TechWeek Europe

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Intel Security research shows Brits can’t ditch the mobile phone on holiday and why this is a worry for corporate data

The United States is the riskiest holiday destination in the world in terms of cybersecurity, according to research from Intel Security, which highlights the dangers facing IT departments during the summer season.

Brits are too anxious to not use their smartphone while taking some time off, and many will be using work devices or phones containing corporate data, the report found.

The US and Spain are the most popular British holiday destinations and both feature in the top three. So it must be safer to stay at home and go to Cornwall or the Lake District? Not really, as risks such as unsecured Wi-Fi push the UK into second place.

Happy Holidays

woman using laptop on beach holidayThe research found just a third of UK holidaymakers are happy to leave their laptops and tablets behind and two fifths feel anxious at going cold turkey by having with no access to social media or work emails.

Additonally, 79 percent of people plan to connect to internet whilst on holiday, and that 54 percent are either not thinking or not caring about whether they are using secure connections when on holiday. Meanwhile, more than a third (37 percent) of Brits would connect to any internet they can find in order to stay connected.

The use of unsecure networks is well documented risk and Intel Security lost little time in warning Brits about using unsecured Wi-Fi networks whilst aboard. Earlier this year the European Court of Justice ruled that operators of free public Wi-Fi networks are not liable for any copyright infringement committed by users of these networks.

But what actual risks to Brits face if they don’t take prudent steps to protect themselves?

Intel points out that cyber hackers can exploit security vulnerabilities by sending malware to mobile devices through malicious websites, spam, malicious SMS messages, malware-laden ads, and downloaded apps.

These can give these criminals access to a wealth of personal information, including images, and financial details.

Safe Surfing

“Whether at work, home or on holiday, we all rely on mobile phones to stay connected to our friends, family and followers,” said Nick Viney at Intel Security. “All too often though, people throw little caution to the wind when it comes to protecting their data away from home, and are often quick to use devices to access sensitive information, without considering the potential risk.”

“People simply need to take the necessary precautions to ensure they are surfing safely when travelling, such as keeping an eye on accounts and activity and making sure you only connect to secure networks.”

Intel Security advised that Brits limit wheir Wi-Fi and Bluetooth use, as switching these could potentially expose personal data to a criminal. It warns users to be especially careful when exchanging payment information. It said users should update their Bluetooth and Wi-Fi history by removing previously ‘remembered’ wireless networks.

Another piece of advise to check and monitor your mobile account whilst on holiday, so suspicious activity can be detected before you return home.

And finally Intel Security warns users to be careful about what information they share online. For example, advertising the fact that you are leaving home for a holiday could potentially leave users houses open to bulgary. It says users should wait until they return home before posting their holiday snaps to Facebook.

Earlier this year O2 teamed up with a credit card company so that users no longer had to inform their bank when they want to use their credit card abroad.

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