Travel and hospitality targeted after cyber criminals ‘honed skills’ during COVID

Travel and hospitality targeted after cyber criminals ‘honed skills’ during COVID

Akamai Technologies says the travel bounce back has seen attacks soar beyond pre-pandemic levels

Cyberattacks against the European travel and hospitality industry more than doubled in 2020, according to new data from cybersecurity firm Akamai Technologies.

Analysis of web application attacks during peak summer travel seasons in 2019, 2020 and 2021, found cyberattacks against the industry fell by 45% from 2019 to 2020.

However, as travel restrictions have eased, they have risen 120% year-on-year in 2021. Web application attacks are among the most common forms of cyber crime and pose a serious risk to businesses.

Richard Meeus, director of security technology and strategy EMEA at Akamai Technologies, said:   “The travel and hospitality industry has started its journey to recovery after the challenges of the past 18 months and this bounce back is great to see.

“However, as consumer travel confidence improves, cybersecurity simply must remain top of the agenda for the industry.

“While the 2021 summer season has provided a much-needed boost for Europe’s travel industry, it has also proved a boon for cyber criminals looking to capitalise on the return of activity in the sector.

“The travel and hospitality businesses should remain especially vigilant at this time so that they can protect themselves against significant financial and reputational damage at a time when many are looking to recoup their pandemic losses.”

Web application attacks can lead to compromising of personal information and enable cyber criminals to impersonate legitimate users to gain access to sensitive data.

Akamai said the sharp rise in attacks compared to pre-pandemic levels suggests hackers may have been “honing their skills” during the pandemic.

Key findings of the research include:

  • The UK travel industry saw the sharpest year on year rise in attacks. In the UK, there were 15.9 million web application attacks in 2019, 6.1 million in 2020 (-61.2%), and 24.8 million in 2021 (+304.9%);
  • In Germany cyberattacks against the travel industry continued to substantially increase during the pandemic. In a contrast to the rest of the continent, there were 2.9 million web application attacks in 2019, 4.1 million in 2020 (+40.1%), and 12 million in 2021 (+189.8%)
  • In the EMEA region, there were 37.3 million web application attacks in 2019, 20.7 million in 2020 (-44.6%), and 45.5 million in 2021 (+120.1%)