Travelling can be a hassle. From packing to getting to the airport on time, it seems like there are a million things to remember.
And now, with online hotel and ticket booking websites, travellers have one more thing to worry about – security risks.
While these websites are incredibly convenient and save time, they also pose a security risk. Hackers can gain access to personal information, such as credit card numbers and addresses, or even book reservations under someone else’s name.
What are the risks with these sites?
To get to the point, many online reservation systems, such as those for airline tickets and hotels, allow customers to pay for their reservations via wire transfer, which is a familiar term among the general public. A software-defined network device known as a Payment Gateway is used to link the website’s database with the bank’s computer systems and servers through third-party plug-ins via APIs.
Secured Socket Layer or SSL algorithms, which may be 64-bit or 128-bit encryption methods depending on the necessity, are often used in these very secure payment gateways. 128-bit SSL algorithms are the most often used in the public domain to protect money transfer environments and encrypt sensitive information. These algorithms are exceedingly tough to break even with state-of-the-art tools.
The problem, or rather the loopholes, lie with the internal data storage mechanisms deployed by the third party ticket booking websites.
Sometimes, to reduce the cost of maintaining the high-security standards, these websites do not take adequate measures to ensure that the payment-related information is safe in their servers.
It might also be that their server or database administrators are not skilled enough to ensure stringent security measures are deployed.
It may happen that while no security breach takes place on the part of your bank’s transfer system, security loopholes might exist in the hotel’s or the airline’s website. Suppose their servers are hacked, and any expert hacker appropriately mines the data. In that case, your complete details regarding the financial transaction, including your credit card details, will be in front of the hacker.
The hacker can download or copy the information to some other system of his own and use the same to perform unauthorised transactions and fund transfers. Although banks deploy double-layered verification methods to mitigate such frauds, the process is far from being full-proof.
Thus, think twice before you trust a third party hotel and ticket booking service. Even the best hotel booking service providers are vulnerable to such server attacks by cyber experts, and they do very little to plug the loopholes in their systems and servers.
As online hotel and ticket booking websites have become increasingly popular, so too have the security risks associated with using them. Many of these sites are not secure, meaning that your personal information is at risk of being stolen. In addition, these websites are often targeted by hackers who are looking to steal credit card information or book fake reservations. To protect yourself when using these websites, be sure to only use sites that are secure and verify the legitimacy of the site before entering any personal information.