We’re happy to share the results of our 2018 Travel Website Password Power Rankings™. The rankings, which rate password and account security on 55 of the world’s most popular travel-related sites, found that 89% of travel-related sites leave their users’ accounts perilously exposed to hackers due to unsafe password practices.
Dashlane researchers tested each website on five critical password and account security criteria. A site received a point for each criterion it met, for a maximum score of 5/5. Any score below 4/5 was considered failing and not meeting the minimum threshold for good password security.
You can see the full data set at the bottom of the page.
Only 11% (6/55) passed with a score of 4/5 or better, and only one travel-related website received a perfect 5/5 score: Airbnb. Unlike Airbnb, other household names like American Airlines and Carnival Cruise Lines failed, both receiving a score of 1/5. The websites even allowed Dashlane researchers to set up accounts with alphanumeric passwords “12345” and “password.”
“I believe that traveling is the single greatest opportunity to de-stress from daily life and broaden our horizons,” states Emmanuel Schalit, CEO at Dashlane. “However, the modern traveler has to reckon with the many digital hazards associated with a journey—from booking flights, to reserving hotel rooms, to renting a car or looking online for recommendations—which creates many chances for personal data to become compromised. Our intention in ranking travel sites is not to scare people away from one of life’s greatest pleasures, but to make the modern traveler more aware. The days of worrying about just pickpockets are over. Digital thieves are the real threat.”
Critical Security Lapses
Travel sites failed to protect user data in two main ways:
1. 2FA failings: A staggering 96% travel sites tested do not provide 2FA (two-factor authentication). The security benefits of enabling 2FA are well documented. In fact, Dashlane recommends enabling 2FA on all sensitive accounts.
Additionally, Dashlane found that 81% of travel sites did not even provide users with a password strength assessment tools during the account creation process.
2. Poor security practices: When compared to results of Dashlane’s 2017 rankings of leading consumer websites, and the more recent 2018 rankings comparing the cryptocurrency exchanges, travel sites performed especially poorly. In the consumer rankings, which examined sites such as Apple, Facebook, and PayPal, only 36% received a failing score. That is in extremely stark contrast to the 89% of sites that failed Dashlane’s 2018 travel examination.
The travel website category with the worst average score belongs to the cruise industry (1.67/5), closely followed by booking websites (2/5). On the other end of the spectrum, rental car websites as a group scored the best on average (2.86/5), but across all categories the scores were poor.
“Big names in the travel industry often come under fire for their physical treatment of customers, receiving public blowback on social media for flight delays, egregious treatment of passengers, or even food-borne illnesses,” remarks Schalit. “In many cases the result is a close examination of business practices and positive shift. The travel industry should treat their cybersecurity failings in much the same fashion, and make the necessary changes—such as adding 2FA—in order to protect customers’ digital privacy.”
Travel Security Best Practices
For travels near and far, these are a few easy actions that everyone should take to improve their own online security:
- Use a unique password for every online account
- Generate passwords that exceed eight characters
- Create passwords with a mix of case-sensitive letters, numbers, and special symbols
- Avoid using passwords that contain common phrases, slang, places, or names
- Use a password manager to help generate, store, and manage your passwords
- Use a VPN whenever you are on an unsecured WiFi connection (e.g. public WiFi)
The study was conducted by Dashlane researchers from April 16 – 20, 2018. The researchers evaluated five security criteria on 55 popular travel related websites. A site received a point for each criterion they met for a maximum score of 5/5. A score of 4/5 was deemed as passing and meeting the threshold for strong user password security. The rankings indicate the security levels of each website with regards to passwords and account protections only.
1. 8+ character password
Tested by creating a new account on each website. Dashlane researchers attempted to create passwords less than 8 characters irrespective of the site’s stated minimum password requirements.
Tested by creating a new account on each website. Researchers attempted to create passwords with all letters (“password”) or numbers (“123456”).
3. Password strength assessment
Tested by creating a new account on each website. If the site provided any notification of password strength, such as a meter or color-coded bar, they were credited as providing an assessment. Sites that only provided confirmed password length or where requirements were met did not receive credit.
4. Account creation email
A site was credited if they sent the user a confirmation or activation email after the account was created. If the site sent a password in plain text they did not receive credit.
Sites were credited if they provide any form of two-factor authentication.
|Site||8+ Char||Ltr & Num||Strength||2FA||Total Score|
|Disney Cruise Line||N||Y||N||N||Y||2|
|Sun Country Airlines||N||Y||N||N||Y||2|
|Intercontinental Hotel Group||N||N||N||N||Y||1|
|Carnival Cruise Line||N||N||N||N||Y||1|
|Norwegian Cruise Line||N||N||N||N||N||0|