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Watch out! Your next travel booking might turn out to be a fraud

Samantha Chiew
Samantha Chiew • 3 min read
Watch out! Your next travel booking might turn out to be a fraud
SINGPORE (June 12): Cybercriminals are capitalising on consumers’ risky holiday booking habits for their favourite destinations, according to McAfee.
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SINGPORE (June 12): Cybercriminals are capitalising on consumers’ risky holiday booking habits for their favourite destinations, according to McAfee.

In its latest research into the riskiest holiday destinations, McAfee found that holiday hot spots Taiwan, London, Bali, Hong Kong and Japan generate the riskiest search results when people are on the hunt for holidays online.

Taking advantage of the high search volumes for accommodation and deals in these popular destinations, cybercriminals drive unsuspecting users to potentially malicious websites that can be used to install malware, steal personal information and even capture passwords.

In addition to planting malware-ridden search results, hackers send malicious links through text messages, emails and pop-up adverts.

Of the 500 Singaporeans survey, about 29% of respondents said that they have been scammed or came very close to being scammed, when booking a holiday online. Almost half of holiday scam victims reported they lost anywhere between $1,000 to $7,000 as a result of the fraudulent activity.

The survey found that those most at risk are the bargain-hunting Singaporeans, with 34% of fraud victims falling into a scam after spotting a great deal, which turned out to be fake.

Also, about 30% of Singaporeans tend to book their holidays through email promotions and pop-up ads.

Shashwat Khandelwal, head of Southeast Asia consumer business at McAfee, says, “We strongly advise people to validate deals, holiday rentals and flights directly via trusted brands’ websites, instead of clicking on links and pop-ups offering bargains. Once they’ve validated its authenticity, all communication and payment should be conducted via that trusted platform to help keep personal and financial information out of hackers’ hands.”

Around 23% of people tend to not check the authenticity of a website before making an online holiday booking, while 33% said that it never crossed their mind to check the website’s authenticity.

This can ruin holiday plans, as about 23% of scam victims only find out that they were scammed when they turned up to their holiday rental to find the booking was not actually valid.

Almost half (45%) of respondents do not check the security of their internet connection or are willingly connecting to an unsecured network while away, putting themselves at risk when on holiday.

And that’s not all. The survey found that people used devices for data-sensitive activity such as using Google Maps (76%), checking and sending e-mails (67%), as well as managing money through a banking app (28%). Additionally, 58% of Singaporeans said that they use their work devices on holiday, potentially putting sensitive business information at risk.

This makes it particularly concerning to discover that network security is not being prioritised.

“Businesses are working hard to enable people to work collaboratively and flexibly through productivity tools and apps based in the cloud. While it’s their responsibility to ensure the appropriate security is in place, no matter where their employees are in the world, cybersecurity threats exist and proactive steps must be taken by those using work devices abroad to minimise the risk,” adds Khandelwal.

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