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Sun, sea and scams: nearly a quarter of Brits prioritise cheap deals over holiday site security

August 2020 by David Emm, Principal security Researcher at Kaspersky

Brits may be clicking ‘buy’ too quickly on cheap holiday deals as they scramble to secure their getaways to either domestic or overseas destinations, new research from cybersecurity firm Kaspersky has found. Despite the ever-changing travel situation due to Covid-19, holiday bookings have ‘exploded’ – with sea and sun deals, Cornish getaways and campsite reservations all skyrocketing. Worryingly, Kaspersky’s research shows that a fifth (20%) of Brits don’t check a holiday provider’s website authenticity before purchasing deals, meaning some consumers are putting themselves at risk of being scammed. With the majority of people across the UK having been at home since March, 35% of Brits are ‘desperate’ to go on holiday this summer – whilst 24% have already planned or booked their 2021 getaways. New research shows that travellers could be booking holidays without exercising enough caution and due diligence. Amid holiday providers slashing prices and an increase in new cheap deal websites, nearly a quarter of people (23%) admit they prioritise price over security when making a booking.

Given recent economic hardships battering the nation, including a UK-wide recession, consumer spending is only just beginning to bounce back and people are starting to book holidays. Therefore, it is understandable that price plays a big role in booking with certain providers, but consumers must be wary of opportunistic behaviour by cybercriminals. It is important that sun-seeking Brits take steps to ensure their sensitive information isn’t handed to scammers, especially as nearly three-quarters (72%) of people now book holidays online. While over half of Brits (51%) think they are unlikely to ever fall for a holiday scam, this complacency could see them hand their hard-earned cash directly to cybercriminals.

David Emm, principal security researcher at Kaspersky, said: “It is understandable that price influences people when they are deciding which holiday providers to place bookings with, but cheap deals must not come at the cost of security. Scammers are clever and opportunistic – and as bookings continue to increase, they will be looking to cash in on unsuspecting sun-seekers.

“In spite of the inevitable desperation to book an escape following months of strict lockdown restrictions, we would advise everyone to remember good cybersecurity practices and check website authenticity before hitting buy. It may be the holiday season for many Brits, but it’s always hunting season for scammers. It’s important to remember that if something seems too good to be true, there’s a chance it’s exactly that.”

To help ensure that online bookings are made safely and securely, Kaspersky recommends that consumers:
• Avoid using websites that appear suspicious or flawed, no matter how great their holiday deals are.
• Don’t click on unfamiliar links you receive in emails or social media messages, even from people you know, unless you were expecting the message
• Double-check the email address of the sender. If it not the official brand’s website domain, do not click on the link
• Hover over the linked text in the email or message and see which URL it will actually open
• Invest in a robust cybersecurity solution to protect all your devices you use to shop online
• Think about how much money you wish to spend in an online payment transaction account at any one time
• Reduce the amount of funds you have in your bank and online accounts, that you use to book travel arrangements. The greater the balance, the more can be lost to fraudster
• Restrict the number of attempted transactions on your bank card
• Turn on and always use two-factor authentication (Verified by Visa, MasterCard Secure Code, etc.)

Research Methodology
Kaspersky commissioned Arlington Research to interview 2,000 UK consumers aged 18+ in August 2020. Nationally representative quotas were met for gender, age and region (+/- 2%).

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