As enjoyable as it is, travel can be overwhelming, leaving people distracted in unfamiliar environments like airports—and susceptible to scams. With travel spiking and airports crowded, hackers and scam artists have access to more people to prey on than ever.
Just in time for peak travel season, Lookout, a cyber-security company, has issued some useful advice on how to prevent yourself from getting scammed. Here, three things you should never do at an airport.
1. Don’t Use Free Wi-Fi (Without Being Careful)
The Risk: Many airports offer free Wi-Fi, but you might end up paying a big cost by blinding using a free public network at an airport—it might be fake. “Attackers have been known to set up fake public networks with convincing names like ‘Free_Airport_Internet,’” says Darnell Sharperson, a spokesperson for Lookout. With these fake networks, hackers can get access to sensitive information, including your emails, messages and login credentials like usernames and passwords.
How to Protect Yourself: Make sure you join the official airport network. And adjust the settings on your smartphone or computer so that it does not automatically connect to nearby networks.
2. Don’t Use a Public USB Port
The Risk: USB ports make it easy to plug in a cord and charge your device. Bad idea. “Attackers can exploit USB chargers by loading malware onto them that infects your device the second you plug it in,” says Sharperson. Along those same lines, it’s a bad idea to borrow someone else’s USB cord or lend your cord to someone else, since scammers can use cords to extract info or hack into your device.
How to Protect Yourself: “Always travel with your personal USB cords, and plug your charger directly into an electrical socket (vs USB port) if possible,” says Sharperson. And Never leave your phone or device unattended and only let people you know “borrow” your devices.
3. Don’t Make Travel Updates (Blindly)
The Risk: Hackers are getting smarter. The latest scam: “Attackers may try to steal a traveler’s credentials through phishing campaigns that pretend to be an airline, credit card company or TSA,” says Sharperson. Here’s how it works: You get a message saying that your TSA PreCheck (or another account) needs to be renewed, but email, text or direct message has a link that to a fake site where hackers can steal your money and personal information.
How to Protect Yourself: Be careful about clicking any links and go directly to your travel provider’s website to check your account and make sure the request is legit.