08 Feb

Hackers are the new pickpockets: why the travel industry needs to prioritise cyber security

Luay Alfaham, Senior Partner Networks Manager, Home Office

Luay recently spoke at ABTA's Data Protection and Cyber Security in Travel seminar about effective communications to drive behaviour change and attitudes towards cyber crime amongst the public and small businesses, on behalf of the government’s Cyber Aware campaign. 

From money belts to avoiding taxi scams, the travel industry is well versed in advising clients on how to protect themselves. But more needs to be done to protect the public on their travels (and travel businesses) from the threat posed by cyber criminals. 

The latest figures show 1.2 million people were victims of cyber crime in 2017i and 46% of businesses identified at least one cyber security breach in the last 12 months.ii Furthermore, news reports have revealed that cyber criminals are targeting hotels across Europe by compromising their wi-fi networks to gain access to tourists’ data. 

This is why the Home Office’s Cyber Aware campaign has partnered with ABTA to educate the industry about how to stay secure online. Cyber Aware educates the public and small businesses in the UK on ways to better protect themselves against the cyber threat by adopting a set of simple, protective behaviours. These include:

  • Use a strong and separate password for your email (using three random words or numbers); as hackers can use your email to access many of your other personal accounts. 
  • Install the latest software and app updates; they contain vital security updates which help protect your device from viruses and hackers
  • Don’t use public Wi-Fi to transfer sensitive information such as card details 
  • Secure devices with a screen lock
  • Always back-up your most important data 
  • Use two-factor authentication for your most important accounts.

Working with industry partners such as travel operators and agencies is key to driving the adoption of cyber security behaviours by integrating them into our everyday lives.

For further information on how you can get involved in the campaign, visit www.cyberaware.gov.uk.

 i Office for National Statistics, Crime in England and Wales: year ending September 2017 
 ii Cyber Security Breaches Survey, DCMS, 2017