EU Holiday Directive: Cyber Advice

It has been announced this week that holidaymakers will be receiving a higher level of protection, because of part of an EU directive which will be applied to holidays booked from the 1st July, 2018.

Traditional package holidays are already well protected by ABTA (the travel agent’s trade body), it is “flight-plus” arrangements which encourage holidaymakers to add on accommodation etc. after booking their flights that will now receive the same levels of protection.

However, this doesn’t mean that people still shouldn’t exercise caution when booking holidays. Action Fraud found that UK holidaymakers lost £6.7million to booking fraud last year. 4,700 unsuspecting travelers were affected. Most common types of booking fraud related to: holiday accommodation, airline tickets, sports and religious trips, and caravanning.

In response to this, Alan Levine, Security Advisor to Wombat Security Technologies, and former CISO to a Fortune 500 company, would like to give the following advice to consumers:

Arranging travel online can be fast and efficient, but potentially dangerous. Cyber criminals are experts at schemes which can tilt online transactions in their favour. So, what can you do to defeat the bad guys and enjoy your holiday?

If you learn about the offer in an email, verify the sender and content of the email to confirm that they are legitimate. If you found out about the offer whilst searching the internet, the first few search results may have been placed there by cybercriminals, so double check you’re on a legitimate website before handing over money. And, if you started on one website and got redirected to another, make sure that you ask yourself why you’re now at a new site that you didn’t intend on visiting – does this new website feel right to you?

It’s also worth specifically looking out for spelling, formatting, and other basic mistakes that could indicate if a site isn’t professional – you can confirm if a site’s security level is legitimate by looking for an “https” in the address bar. It’s also always safer to type in a known and trusted website rather than clicking through to a site via an ad on a social page or a shared link. When paying for your holiday, you can confirm a payment before you complete a transaction by calling the provider directly. Also, always pay with a credit card and not by bank transfer – even if you’re offered a ‘discount’.

Finally, just remember that if a flight or hotel offer seems too good to be true, it likely isn’t – make sure that you carefully vet any offers prior to booking.