Germans dispense with security for their smartphones on holiday


G DATA survey shows that Germans are not so strict about IT security when on holiday. 43 per cent take no action regarding security for their mobile device before going away. This means no installation of security software and no password request activation. This makes life easy for local digital thieves and pickpockets.

Holiday season is on the horizon once again and people start traveling more. Smartphones and tablets have become a permanent fixture in many people's luggage. Not only do they combine a camera, video recorder, navigation device and wallet in one device, but they also make it easier to organise your holiday with travel booking and transport apps. According to a recent Bitkom survey, every German citizen has an average of four different apps on their device, such as weather apps, navigation apps or apps for booking accommodation, transport and tourist activities. When planning their trip, however, the Germans still leave one thing out, as a representative G DATA survey shows - the issue of IT security on holiday. There is still a lot of catching up to do here. Four out of ten travellers do not take any security precautions with their smartphone or tablet before going on holiday. It is worth noting that men are much more security-conscious - perhaps simply because they are often much more technology-savvy? Two in three men - but only one in every two women - in Germany secure their mobile device before traveling.

Users who make their mobile phones or tablets secure before going on holiday create a backup of their stored data. 28 percent of the respondents take at least this measure. The striking thing is that younger users between 18 and 29 years of age especially rely on backups - more than 36 percent of the respondents stated that they carry out this security measure. Perhaps this is because they have experienced data loss before and have gotten wise to the damage. Other actions that mobile device owners take are activation of the password query for the lock screen (26 percent) and updating the installed apps and the operating system (24 percent). The provider's blocking number in the event of a device loss is noted down by just one sixth of Germans.

Tim Berghoff

Cyber criminals don't go on holiday. They are active during the peak travel season so they can specifically attack holidaymakers. Users should therefore comprehensively secure their mobile device before travelling. Many measures are easy to implement, such as installing all updates for the apps they use and the operating system, or activating the password request.”

Tim Berghoff

Security Evangelist, G DATA CyberDefense

Always on - even on holiday

One in five people on holiday does without the Internet and - consciously or unconsciously - takes a break from social media and other online services. The fact is, the younger the person, the more online-savvy they are. Only six percent of 18 to 29-year-olds are not online at all while on holiday. Among those over 60, the figure is 35 percent. When it comes to Internet access, travellers use either public WLAN (37 percent) or their own data volume (35 percent). There has been a significant change compared to the previous year, as use of WLAN networks was still at almost 50 percent last year, but has declined significantly. At the same time, the number of people using their own data allowance has increased. According to the G DATA study, in 2018 this figure was only 23 percent - it has increased 12 percent within a year. This makes it clear that the newly introduced EU Roaming Regulation which ensures capped costs for data use is having an effect. Most users seem to have a sufficiently large data allowance so that they do not necessarily need WLAN networks for surfing, chatting and the like. A nice side effect of this is that it increases user security.

Tim Berghoff

Cyber criminals particularly like to use WLAN networks in holiday destinations to attack unsuspecting holidaymakers and read their data. From the point of view of IT security, the fact that Germans are now more likely to use their data allowance on holiday than public WLAN is very welcome. This forces the perpetrators to consider other ways of attacking holidaymakers.

Tim Berghoff

Security Evangelist, G DATA CyberDefense

Bad times for mobile phone thieves

On the subject of security, German holidaymakers apparently take good care of their mobile phones - only seven percent have lost their mobile device while travelling or have had it stolen. Nine out of ten Germans have never had a problem with this. It's notable that young people pay much less attention to their smartphone or tablet. More than 16 percent of those surveyed between the ages of 18 and 29 have lost their mobile device on holiday. Older people are much more mistrustful and security-conscious.

Tips for comprehensive, secure holiday preparation

  • Protected by security software: A powerful security solution is part of the basic equipment of every PC and mobile device.
  • Close software security holes: An updated operating system and updates of applications and apps will close critical security holes. This means attacks come to nothing - the technical devices remain secure.
  • Check settings: Users should check their mobile device's privacy and data protection settings and correct them if necessary. Password prompting should also be enabled.
  • Back up data: Before travelling, important information, photos and contacts should be backed up. If a device is lost, the data will not be irretrievably lost.
  • Note blocking numbers: Holidaymakers should remember the service numbers of their mobile phone provider and their credit and debit card service providers. The card, surf stick or mobile device concerned can be blocked immediately in the event of loss.
  • Read the small print when booking online: Users should check travel offers on the Internet carefully and read the small print. Web searches on the provider will help too.
  • Delete spam immediately: Unwanted email should be deleted immediately. The links to websites or file attachments contained in the messages should not be clicked on, otherwise users could fall straight into a malware trap.

For the G DATA study, 1,000 Internet users from Germany were interviewed in May 2019. The representative short survey was conducted by OmniQuest GmbH.


from Stefan Karpenstein
Public Relations Manager