Winter Holiday Travel Tips: Staying Protected from Cybercrime

By: Ashraf Sheet, Regional Director, Middle East & Africa at Infoblox

As 2019 draws to a close and expatriates pack their bags and book their tickets to return to their home countries for the winter holiday season, nothing could possibly go wrong—except for a potential cybersecurity attack! Here are eight tips on how to stay protected while you are away on holiday:

Avoid travel booking scams

Quite a few people get scammed while booking travel plans online. Unfortunately, there are many fraudulent websites that lure customers in by using fake domain names similar to those of well-known travel-booking agencies. To keep yourself protected, do your research on different travel booking websites and make sure you are using real and trustworthy websites. A quick check to see if there is a “lock” icon in front of the URL and the website domain doesn’t have any unusual letters is a great place to start.

Protect your log-in credentials

Whether checking into a flight, confirming reservations for hotels, or making new reservations with websites you have accounts with, your information can be vulnerable. Sophisticated “forgeries” of popular booking sites are far too common and fool people into surrendering their usernames and passwords, which attackers will exploit. A simple technique to avoid falling victim is to use a username and password you know is wrong. If the site accepts it, pretending to log you in, you will know that it is a fake site, and your credentials are still protected.

Be cautious of using public Wi-Fi networks

Many airports and local cafes offer free and public Wi-Fi networks for users. These are often tempting to use, especially as a traveller who wants to stay connected online and get some work done. However, these networks are not secure—even if they are paid. Paying to use restricted networks does not necessarily make them safe. Infiltrators have complete and easy access to these open networks, and they are ready to attack at any given moment. For example, be aware of evil twins: attackers can establish rogue Wi-Fi networks with names such as “Free Wi-Fi.” Be sure to confirm the name of the hotspot before connecting. To stay protected, use a VPN or a private mobile hotspot when browsing the web on vacation to keep your data secure.

Avoid using public computers

When opting to use a public computer, it is best to refrain from accessing sensitive information, including logging into bank accounts and making online transactions. Assume that all activity on public computers can be seen and recreated by others. Attackers can install keyloggers on public computers, allowing them to recreate any data including log-in credentials and more. Rather than purchasing items online, it is highly recommended to pay for items upfront at the vacation destination. However, if you absolutely need to use the internet during travel, use your mobile device, which is much safer than a shared computer system. You can also get VPN apps for most mobile devices, so if you need public WiFi as well, your connection will be protected.

Disable Bluetooth access

Bluetooth connections are generally secure, as they typically require confirmation from the person who is pairing the devices together. However, there is a real risk of Bluetooth settings not being configured properly, resulting in cybersecurity dangers. Occasionally, personal devices are set to automatic pairing, giving cybercriminals easy access to devices. This allows them to easily steal data and to infiltrate systems with malware. Before leaving on vacation, check to make sure all Bluetooth connectivity settings are secure. However, the safest option would be turning off Bluetooth networking altogether.

Update and backup devices

Keeping technology software and applications up-to-date is crucial. Outdated software leaves users vulnerable to security breaches because hackers are often able to find security holes. The easiest way to do this is to turn on automatic updates on all your devices. To prepare for the worst, it is suggested to back up all of your information before the trip in the event that files and data go missing.

Pack a portable charger

Bring a portable charger or a personal charging cube along. Avoid using public charging stations as much as possible to keep from falling victim to “juicejacking.” This crime occurs when hackers trick travellers into charging their devices, while the charger cord actually connects to a hidden computer. The computer then downloads all the information off of the personal device, including important data such as usernames and account numbers. Therefore, it is much safer to bring a personal power source.

Install a privacy screen

Privacy screens “black out” the sides of devices, ensuring that the only person who can read the screen is the person who is actually using the device. They are inexpensive and provide a very easy solution for prying eyes. They are also much more effective than simply dimming the brightness of the screen. Anyone could be lurking nearby at the airport or at the hotel lobby, so play it safe and get a privacy screen today.


There are many simple and cheap precautions that travellers can take to keep safe while traveling. Don’t let attackers ruin vacation or cause worry about cybersecurity issues.

New Fortinet Survey Provides Insight into the role of Cybersecurity in OT

The Importance of Cybersecurity to Enable Safety and Reliability is Recognized but Obstacles Remain

Fortinet,a global leader in broad, integrated and automated cybersecurity solutions, today announced that a commissioned study conducted by Forrester Consulting found that industrial firms, due to increased digitalization, are more exposed to cyber threats than ever before. In addition, the lack of collaboration between Information Technology (IT) and Operational Technology (OT) teams represents another cybersecurity barrier for organizations that want to take full advantage of IT/OT convergence to increase their business benefits.

Industrial firms are committed to further digitalizing their factory floor to find new efficiencies and improve their ability to gather data that can provide business insight into production processes. 66% of respondents said their factories run through IP-connected networks and use real-time data to inform business decisions. However, these IP-connected networks bring up new cybersecurity risks with 73% of respondents in agreement that the attack surface has expanded. Meanwhile, only half of respondents agreed that their factory machinery is well prepared to fight off cybersecurity threats, leaving the other half unprepared and 55% of respondents either have no plans to implement or plan to implement cybersecurity technologies in the next 12 months. 

Another key finding showing Industrial Control Systems (ICS) are at risk due to lack of collaboration between the IT and OT environments with 51% of respondents claiming they operate in silos, meaning the OT team manages critical industrial equipment and any OT cybersecurity whereas the IT team is responsible for management of IT cybersecurity. A quarter to over a third of respondents did not know who had primary responsibility for cybersecurity solutions such as process, control and automation systems, and even business planning and logistics. However, 91% stated that security of factory machinery should be a shared IT and OT responsibility, as well as having clear and regular communication on the IT/OT convergence vision (58%) in order to ensure a successful IT/OT convergence. 

Organizations have much to gain from convergence and close collaboration between OT and IT teams, with the biggest being access to real-time data insights from manufacturing operations (66%) then being able to monetize and create new business opportunities via increased insight into production data (59%). Numerous efficiency gains are to be obtained as well, with 43% of respondents citing reduced duplication of processes and workflows between plants, as well as enhanced visibility to mitigate cybersecurity threats.

Joe Sarno, VP International Emerging & Operational Technology & Critical Infrastructure EMEA at Fortinet: “Industrial firms need to change at the operational level in order to bridge the divide between IT and OT environments and build trust between these teams, to ensure a successful convergence. As the attack surface expands, IT and OT teams must collaborate to improve visibility and defend against cyber threats. That’s why at Fortinet we are investing a lot of time and resources into R&D for ICS cybersecurity solutions.”

Fortinet commissioned Forrester Consulting to conduct an online survey in India, Turkey, the UK, Spain, Poland, Germany, Slovakia, Italy, France, the Czech Republic, and the Netherlands to evaluate the techniques industrial firms use to manage security, security roles and responsibilities between IT and OT, and the challenges and opportunities of IT/OT convergence.The survey included 459 IT and OT decision makers responsible for ICS at industrial enterprises with 1,000 employees or more (automotive, transportation, manufacturing, maritime, and aviation engineering) in Europe and India.

Kodak Alaris Claims Prestigious 2020 Scanner Line of the Year Award from the Analysts at Keypoint Intelligence – Buyers Lab

Buyers Laboratory (BLI), the world’s leading independent evaluator of document imaging hardware, software, and services, today announced that Kodak Alaris has won BLI’s coveted 2020 Scanner Line of the Year award for the fourth time in five years. Given once a year, this award recognizes the vendor whose product line is deemed best overall based on its rigorous laboratory evaluations.

Scanners from Kodak Alaris enable businesses of all shapes and sizes to extend business process automation to the point of capture. Across the entire line, customers can expect highly integrated onramps for entering all paper-based information to the systems that drive their business. Each device is characterized by its exceptional media handling, top-notch image enhancement and OCR capabilities, flawless reliability, and a simple user experience.” said Lee Davis, Keypoint Intelligence’s Senior Editor, Scanner Analysis and Software Evaluation. “Whether it’s a small desktop unit or a production scanner—and everything in between—scanners from Kodak Alaris are class leaders that can add tremendous value to any business, earning the company its fourth Line of the Year award in five years, and its fifth overall.”

To determine the Scanner Line of the Year award recipient, BLI analysts consider current scanners in the OEM’s line that have been submitted to BLI’s lab for testing. To judge the overall quality of the line, the analysts look at the overall rating a scanner received after testing, as well as the ratings in key categories such as Reliability, Productivity, Media Handling, Image Quality, Ease of Setup, Drivers/Utilities, OCR Performance, and Value.

“Kodak Alaris is by far the most-awarded scanner manufacturer in BLI’s 62-year history, with 30 Pick and Outstanding Achievement awards along with the five Line of the Year honors,” said Don Lofstrom, President and General Manager, Alaris, a Kodak Alaris business. “As we kick off a new decade with this prestigious award, we look forward to innovating, delighting customers and growing with our partners for many years to come.”