Cyber criminals target travelers
The alert, from the FBI's Internet Crime Complaint Center, was addressed to U.S. executives, government workers and academics but did not specify a particular country of threat.
It warned of a spate of incidents of travelers encountering bogus software update pop-ups when they used hotel Internet connections overseas. When they clicked on the "update," malicious software was installed on their computer.
Hotel Wi-Fi connections are particularly risky, said Sian John, U.K. security strategist at Symantec, because they are often set up without proper security settings. But they are merely one data-security threat among many facing business travelers.
From a data-security standpoint, travel is inherently risky, and the likelihood of private personal or corporate data being compromised is greatly increased the moment you hit the road, she said.
"One of the major ways data loss happens is when people are traveling," she said. "You're not in a secure area ... That is where the risks tend to arise."
John said a major risk was that in getting online while on the road, travelers often turn to free Wi-Fi internet connections ― in hotels, but also at airports, conference centers and business facilities.
While security settings vary from network to network, many are left open and unmonitored, and travelers are frequently unaware that they could be unwittingly exposing themselves to data loss by logging on.
"Anyone can connect to them, which means anyone can look at the traffic going across them," she said. "It's very easy to sit on one of these things and pick up the traffic going through them. There are devices out there that let you hijack them." (CNN)