GREER, SC (WSPA) — Leaders at Greenville-Spartanburg International Airport are warning consumers to pay attention to where they click while online. Airport officials say it, like more than 100 airports across the country, is dealing with spoof websites.
The sites, which advertise themselves as guides for the airport, admit in small font at the bottom of the page that they are not affiliated with GSP but still use URL’s very similar to the legitimate one.
“What they do is they’ll try to sell advertising on those websites and make a few pennies for every time that someone looks at that site,” Tom Tyra, the airport’s director of marketing and communications, said. “They’ll sell advertising to anyone who wants to advertise on the internet.”
The sites themselves currently contain no malicious components, Tyra said. However, the sites — and their numerous clones for other travel hubs — pose a problem for customers.
The real GSP website is constantly updated with the newest travel information. That information changes frequently as restrictions change in response to COVID-19.
The fake site, though, is rarely updated.
“I’ve got a generic car rental ad that is chasing me around the page as I scroll through it,” said Phil Yanov, founder of Tech After Five, as he looked at one of the sites for the first time. He said while these particular sites do not seem malicious, knockoff websites make him uneasy.
“The word here is provenance. We don’t know what the provenance of this data is,” Yanov said. “We don’t know who is delivering it to us. Why would I trust them? I don’t think they have good intent.”
The advice from tech experts and the airport is clear: Make sure you use the official site. This notion holds true not just for airports.
Spoof websites exist for every facet of the travel industry, Tyra said. Cruise websites, lodging websites, guide websites and others can look like the real deal but might be malicious.
Here are tips to find the real deal:
- Type in the exact web address to your browser for the site you are trying to reach.
- Make sure you check for the ‘Contact Us’ tab on the site you use. Real sites will have phone numbers, email addresses or other methods of contact.
- When in doubt, call the business you are trying to get in touch with to verify the website’s validity.
- Watch out for ads. Too many ads, Yanov said, might be a giveaway that it is a fake site.