Is New Travel Technology Going To Breach Your Privacy?

Facial recognition software. COVID-tracking applications. Travel safety innovations during a pandemic may reveal your personal information. Do you really trust new travel technology?


The travel tech revolution, hastened by the COVID-19 epidemic, is both magnificent and intrusive of your privacy. Air travel and border crossings may be made more convenient by using apps, face recognition, and smart gadgets. Their touch-free and skip-the-line features may help protect you from disease-causing viruses.


New technology, such as the World Economic Forum and The Commons Project partnership CommonPass project, which intends to allow governments to confirm people’s COVID testing and, eventually, immunization credentials, may help hasten the return to regular travel.


However, such innovation carries some risks. Look no further than a recent incident involving former Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott, who shared a photo of his Qantas Airlines boarding card on his Instagram account, only to have a hacker scan the code and discover the ex-passport PM’s number.


Paper tickets are out of date. They do, however, demonstrate that cyber snoops are willing to put their HTML-scanning and database-mining abilities to work for good—or bad. In Abbott’s instance, the hacker highlighted security holes as part of a scheme to dissuade individuals from flaunting flight tickets and other important papers online. The airline responded by strengthening its security systems.


How can you secure your personal information when you return to the world of modern travel technology?


Face recognition technology

Singapore, always on the cutting edge of technology, has announced that it would be the first country in the world to utilize face recognition on government-issued IDs beginning in September 2020. The US Department of Homeland Security aims to use face recognition on 97 percent of travelers by 2023.


The COVID-19 epidemic has also spawned new technology—as well as questions about its implications. Visitors to some nations must download contact-tracing applications (Belize) or wear a GPS tracker (during quarantine in Hong Kong and for some travelers to Grenada). Tracking and tracing may be the cost of traveling during a viral outbreak for the time being. The best secure contact-tracking applications employ Bluetooth and do not automatically transmit data to a central database. However, in June, Amnesty International condemned Bahrain, Kuwait, and Norway for too intrusive applications, and Qatar for a security weakness that exposed personal information to hackers.


The implications of face recognition software for tourists are yet unclear. If you’re concerned about your privacy, you should be weary of all that scanning and recording of your characteristics. Passengers in the United States can opt out of biometric identification at customs and other checkpoints, but you must ask. And it may flag you for additional screening or make you appear to have anything to conceal, so it may be easier to just go with the flow.


While it may feel unsettling that your mug—even if COVID-masked—will become your passport, boarding card, or access to that free hotel breakfast, it’s reasonable to wonder if this is any more intrusive than other ways technology utilizes images to follow our travels and interests. According to Vinny Troia, CEO of risk-assessment firm Night Lion Security and a “ethical” hacker, Google Images is already doing “a terrific job recognizing you from your online images.” When you submit images to Facebook, it performs a face recognition search and proposes identifying the individuals it recognizes in each image.

<img style="padding:20px; width:30%" alt="facial recognition.">


You might find this article interesting too!: Home Security: Why You Should Put IoT Devices on a Guest Wi-Fi Network


Invasion of privacy that is mostly innocuous?

Boarding a plane with a simple swipe of your phone screen is futuristic and simple. Reservation chatbots and databases for hotels, airlines, and vehicle rentals appear to be useful. However, there are other ways in which this technology might harvest and utilize your data. Some of it is completely safe: Your search for a property rental on North Carolina’s beaches may swamp your social media feeds with advertisements for BBQ places.


Using applications (Facebook, Tiktok, WeChat) exposes your data, which is “sold to third parties for advertising, data modeling, and future uses we haven’t yet imagined,” according to privacy and data security attorney Mark McCreary. “Businesses are better equipped to analyze and anticipate travel demand, scheduling, and pricing tolerance thanks to travelers’ data.” In the tourism sector, big data is huge business.”


If you have no qualms about uploading a selfie the next time you camp in a national park or dine out, your concern about travel advances may be misguided. It’s simple to reduce targeted travel ads: Simply clear your cookies and search history on a regular basis, or search for flights or rental vehicles in private mode.


What’s the good news? “Most general-purpose travel applications (e.g., hotel and transportation booking, city guides, etc.) aren’t particularly harmful in terms of your privacy,” says Dave Dean, proprietor of Too Many Adapters, a website that debunks travel tech. He advises that social networking applications (Facebook, Instagram) generally gather more sensitive data and exploit it in more intrusive ways than booking apps. “Yet most individuals willingly utilize those on a daily basis.”


<img style="padding:20px; width:30%" alt="girl in airport">


More severe security flaws

Someone exploiting travel technology to get into your bank accounts, credit cards, or steal your identity poses a greater risk than intrusive adverts or face scans.


Travelers are frequently in strange environments, are easily distracted, and are more likely to be victims of physical theft or cyberattacks (for example, your phone or computer being hacked over the internet at a Salt Lake City café). Sniffing (similar to bugging a phone), malware, and phishing are all examples of digital invasions.


Cybercriminals frequently set up networks and legitimate-looking websites in order to steal your usernames, passwords, and contacts. Limiting your usage of public wifi, which is “usually left unprotected and constitutes an enticing target for hackers,” is a wise precaution. According to Attila Tomaschek, a researcher at the privacy technology review website ProPrivacy.


BullGuard CEO Paul Lipman advises utilizing devices that “contain just the data you’ll need for that trip,” especially while visiting countries where government authorities have the right (or desire) to access your gadgets.


What is the solution? A little technological footprint

Packing light, both digitally and practically, may be the best answer. Dean keeps as little data on his devices as possible, retaining just the programs he truly requires and frequently canceling third-party permissions from Google and Facebook. He advises limiting app access to your contacts and location. “I don’t grant location (GPS) access to any app that doesn’t absolutely need it to work, and I turn off location services when I’m not actively utilizing it for navigation.”

Scott Keyes, proprietor of the discount ticket website Scott’s Cheap Flights, advises using strong and unique passwords for all your devices’ lock screens and accounts, as well as deleting or logging out of financial applications before you leave. Make careful to keep your software up to date with the newest security updates. Don’t be caught short on adapters: having the correct international plugs (or a rechargeable battery) ensures you won’t get your power cut (hacked via a public USB port).


According to Paul Mayers, a retired Canadian government official, “everything I didn’t absolutely need left at home” when visiting other nations. Everything else, including his phone, iPad, and meeting notes, “went with me every time I left my hotel room.”. In certain nations, state operators can and will use espionage to obtain a competitive advantage, such as breaking into a hotel safe to steal your laptop for a short download or to install monitoring spyware.


It all seems like something out of a spy film, where you, your data, and your attention span are converted into a highly valuable product. However, simple actions might keep you from playing the lead.


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