The Bureau of Transportation Statistics shows that mid– to end of summer is a busy travel time for many Americans, increasing business for vacation rental marketplaces like Airbnb, HomeAway (VRBO) and others. Traveling can be fun but it often comes with unwanted frustrations like high hotel expenses, the top headache for many travelers, according to a survey by the American Automobile Association (AAA).
Keeping travel lodging costs low is one reason why sites like Airbnband HomeAway are popular. Airbnb alone boasted 17 million summer travelers last year, according to the company’s 2015 Summer Travel Report. The booking giant now spans 191 countries and 34,000 cities across the globe. Airbnb estimates it has nearly 50 million customers renting and leasing property.
Online platforms like these may put customers at risk of identity theft. Dan Konzen, campus college chair for the University of Phoenix College of Information Systems & Technology, says there are a few concerns that travelers should be aware of.
“Booking travel online carries the same risks as any other online transaction, making personal and credit card information accessible to hackers,” Konzen said. “Overall, it is safe, but people should take precautions, such as using strong passwords that are different from other accounts and limiting the use of public networks.”
Traveling with personal devices, like phones or laptops, can also present cyber hacking threats. If these items are left out, people may steal or hack them to find information like bank log-in credentials. Scenarios like these don’t happen often, but it is safe to be aware. Konzen shares the following tips to keep personal electronic devices secure:
- Lock devices with passwords when not in use.
- Always keep track of device(s).
- Be wary of connecting to public networks, like those in hotel lobbies that often aren’t password protected.
- Refrain from using public devices (e.g., public computers in Internet cafés and hotel offices).
- Be conscientious of the laws and policies regarding port of entries when traveling abroad.
- Be aware that online security and laws relating to it may be different than those in the U.S.
Cybersecurity not only pertains to travelers, but hosts as well. Hosts should be aware that companies like Airbnb often store a copy of their ID and may have access to social media and e-mail accounts. Additionally, these companies could have insurance coverage gaps that they are unaware of, could be liable for taxes or could be in violation of local laws.
“Be smart about how you’re managing your travel. These sites are not malicious, but make sure you understand everything you’re signing up for,” Konzen said. “It is important to do your research before listing property and booking travel.”
University of Phoenix College of Information Systems & Technology prepares cyber professionals to combat increasing cybercrimes. The University offers associate’s, bachelor’s and master’s degrees that teach the risk management and information assurance skills vital to an organization’s success. For more information about each of these programs, including on-time completion rates, the median debt incurred by students who completed the program and other important information, please visit www.phoenix.edu/programs/gainful-employment.