The COVID-19 pandemic has had a huge impact on our business or leisure travel behavior. However, turning to digital alternatives for meetings and other forms of communication cannot meet all the needs of the modern world.
In some cases, we still need to travel. The same will be true for the holidays in the coming years, especially in the light of the successes to be achieved with the vaccine. However, travel may take a slightly different shape in the future. The impact of COVID will be seen not only in the physical aspects of travel, but also in the digital space, and new threats will emerge. Perhaps the biggest issue that awaits us in the future will be privacy.
Made of Glass, Transparent Global Citizen
In order to follow the spread of the epidemic and to control the pandemic, different methods have been developed to follow people in the current period. To eat at the restaurant, you need to register online, when entering the bar, you are asked to write your name and address information on a piece of paper, all of which causes you to share your personal data with unknown people. Although medical professionals' access to such data is beneficial in combating the spread of the epidemic, it has also been observed that unauthorized access to such data has been achieved, for example, by security forces or other personnel. The inevitable tracking of physical location poses a huge threat to privacy. This is because criminals can access such data and use it for other attacks, such as phishing, spam, or malware attacks such as ransomware.
Moreover, some countries require travelers to share their private information comprehensively, forcing them to install not only medical tests but also tracking apps that make it possible to put them under permanent, targeted surveillance. Although it is difficult to predict how long such policies have been in place, it seems likely that in some countries it will even remain permanent.
Monitoring apps can offer a large number of functions. For example, it can not only obtain real-time location data, but also access local data on your smartphone. Until now, we cannot predict how long such applications will be used and how their future will be when the pandemic decreases. There may be other requests in the future for a similar follow-up, such as criminals or new health crises. It is also necessary to monitor how the applications and data collected in this way will be used from now on.
The restrictions imposed during and after the epidemic can also increase privacy in other respects. Last year, Kaspersky conducted a study on "visual and audio hacking" (aka "shoulder surfing"), which is a common problem when traveling. Because of the mandatory policies on social distancing that are still active in many countries, surveillance of this type of information will be more difficult, which can reduce privacy issues to some extent. Of course, if social distancing restrictions are relaxed, travelers will need to take action to avoid “shoulder surfing” once again.
Of course, the digitalization of the travel industry did not begin as a result of the epidemic. From buying tickets to the equipment in your hotel room, travel is becoming an increasingly digital experience and brings more and more risks.
Kaspersky lists some important points to keep in mind when leaving your home for travel:
Your place - not your home
You are probably familiar with the phrase 'feels like home' that hotels and other accommodation providers often use. To be honest, you have to understand that this is not your home. With the increase of smart technologies, you can master all the technology you have in your home, but you have no control over the IoT devices around you in places that do not belong to you. Is there a smartTV with camera in your room? What about smart air controls, voice assistants, entertainment offerings and all the other little helpers integrated into modern accommodation rooms? All of them can be a threat to your privacy or pose a security issue if you connect your own devices to them. Even a power outlet with a USB port to charge your phone can pose a risk to the safety or physical health of your device. Hotels and event venues use this period of few tourists to renew their venues. This means that we can see that such technologies are more integrated in accommodation facilities in the near future.
Home is where your phone automatically connects to your WiFi network
You can travel with a variety of devices such as smartphones, tablets, laptops, e-book readers, and the like. It is also very comfortable to use local WiFi in hotels, restaurants or other places. This way, you can have sufficient connection speed and do not have to worry about high communication bills even when outside your roaming network. But have you ever thought about who controls the network you are connected to? What kind of data do you share, what websites do you open? Not only operators but also criminals can spy on your traffic, collect sensitive data and try to attack your devices. Using encryption not only on your local device but also on remote connections is as important as not losing your flight ticket.
Not everyone likes digital tickets, sometimes a printed boarding pass is inevitable. Hotels and locations today offer public self-service kiosks, usually tablets or a computer. At these kiosks, you log into your email account or open and print wherever you have your ticket stored. This process may take a few minutes, but haven't you forgotten anything? You can skip pressing the "Exit" and "Clear browsing data" button due to stress during logout. Many such devices can be encountered when using accounts from certain global service providers with a large portfolio, maintaining full access to all data such as emails, documents, and your calendar. Not only is this a threat to your data, it also entails the risk of your data being misused by criminals. They can send spam or phishing emails to your contacts and social network.
Who is sitting next to you?
As a result of COVID-19, many services, especially ticket sales and bookings, went from offline to online. Even before the epidemic, it was difficult to get you to "talk" to the right person in the digital world, and in many cases phishers and other criminals abused the problem. People have become even more vulnerable in 2020. Such criminals also clung to the epidemic to deceive people and make profits using social engineering. During this period, there were cases of fake emails about canceled flight returns, fake messages from government agencies, and even trying to sell fake equipment such as masks.
As the physical and digital world continues to merge, security is more important than ever. The pandemic has forced new restrictions and digital processes to protect the health of citizens, and this has shaped the future of travel. The effects of 2020's travel transformation will continue well beyond the end of the pandemic. This means that taking care of your own security has become an imperative, and your protection in the physical and digital world is your most important asset. The most basic precaution to take is to be aware of the risks and to be mindful of your data and behavior.