Cybercrime Related to Travel Soars at the Year’s Halfway Point

  • By Patrick Ryan
  • Jun 27, 2022

There has been a significant spike in tourism following the gradual decline of the coronavirus pandemic. 
The increase in travel has caught the attention of digital miscreants looking to scam tourists as well as travel services providers. Cybersecurity specialists are warning that the uptick in digital travel theft has the potential to lead to the loss of frequent flyer reward points, the online login credentials used to access websites, and databases pertaining to travel.

What Happens to the Compromised Travel Accounts?

The accounts compromised in the tourism industry attacks are rendered valueless. However, the striping of the value of the accounts is not the only loss. Targets of the attack extend to airlines that are suffering cancellations and significant flight delays.

Where do the Stolen Reward Points Go?

The stolen frequent flyer reward points are sent to black markets. Cybercriminals are attempting to sell or trade the stolen credentials on the web to make a quick profit. In particular, the hackers responsible for the cybercrime attacks on airlines, travel agencies, and passengers zeroed in on accounts with a minimum of 100,000 frequent flyer miles.  

What Happens to the Stolen Login Credentials?

The usernames and passwords stolen from travelers’ accounts were listed on the web earlier this winter. 
The credentials pertain to United Kingdom travelers who used one of the more popular travel websites and two airlines based in the United States.

Obtaining access to the accounts in question set the stage for the threat actors to use rewards to book travel reservations. The reservations were booked for the criminals as well as their friends and others. 
The threat actors then sold the accounts and their reward points to other online miscreants after a period of use, creating an opportunity for yet another party to use the stolen login information to commit fraud.

Is This the First Frequent Flyer Rewards Points Scam?

Rewards points programs such as the frequent flyer programs referred to above have been exploited several times in the past. Rewind to 2018, and Russian hackers were taken into custody for illegally breaching the rewards points of half a million accounts. Now that the travel industry is back to its height of operation, there will undoubtedly be more attacks in addition to those described above.

What is the Best Line of Defense Against Travel-Related Scams?

If you aren’t proactive, you will eventually fall prey to an online scam or attack. Merely relying on the standard antivirus software provided with your computer is not enough. Opt for enhanced protection available through the digital security specialists, and you’ll be able to move forward through the busy travel season and beyond without worrying about your travel account’s security.  

Aside from improving your computer’s digital safeguards, it will also help to book your flights from a source you trust and be cognizant of the common signs of phishing scams
If you receive any travel or vacation-related offers by way of email or other methods, assume they are a phishing scam or other form of manipulation until proven otherwise.
 

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