According to McAfee’s 2021 Consumer Security Mindset: Travel Edition, nearly three quarters (72%) plan to holiday in the UK this summer, while only a quarter (25%) have set their hopes on a holiday abroad as international travel remains uncertain. So, with over two thirds (72%) of Brits claiming to be more connected digitally since the pandemic after purchasing more connected devices, what does a summer of staycations mean for online safety?
Unsurprisingly, more than half (58%) of Brits say that the pandemic has influenced a change in preference for holiday accommodation, with hotels and motels (43%) proving to be the most popular choice for a summer getaway this year. Next on the list is staying with family and friends (28%), closely followed by a holiday rental (20%).
However, while Brits are acting with caution when it comes to booking a holiday, this level of increased vigilance is not being mirrored when it comes to their digital safety. In fact, since the pandemic hit, Brits expect there to be the highest risk when connecting to the Wi-Fi networks in a hostel (43%), hotel (22%) or a holiday rental (19%). Yet almost half (46%) would still typically connect to the hotel Wi-Fi when travelling, despite these concerns.
- A whopping 7 in 10 (69%) of Brits claim to have connected to devices when visiting a home that isn’t their own, potentially making them more vulnerable to risks this summer
- Less than half of Brits (45%) take the same online security measures when on-the-go as they would at home
- Just a quarter (25%) of Brits think about how their digital wellness or hygiene can put others at risk when leaving their home.
Out of the home makes you more prone
Whether travelling to a friend’s house, a holiday rental in the UK or a hotel abroad, McAfee’s research has revealed consumer’s reliance on being able to ‘stay connected’, wherever they are. A whopping 7 in 10 (69%) of Brits claim to have connected to devices when visiting a home that isn’t their own, potentially making them more vulnerable to risks this summer, as they are more digitally connected, and less protected than ever before. According to the research, however, this willingness to connect when on-the-go is a result of Brits mistakenly expecting only a low risk, or no risk at all, when connecting at a friend’s home (75%) or at a rental home (42%).
The research also revealed the devices that Brits are most likely to connect to when visiting a home that isn’t theirs, with personal devices coming out on top: laptops/computers (34%), a smart TV (38%), streaming devices (30%), Bluetooth speakers (22%) and gaming systems (17%). While this suggests that Brits deem personal devices safe, in reality, all connected devices pose the same level of threat if not managed properly and Brits should remain cautious when connecting these devices at home, or when on-the-go.
Public Wi-Fi could be ‘too public’
When it comes to how Brits connect when travelling, it seems public WiFi is the number one go-to. Half of Brits (50%) say they often connect to public WiFi while on-the-go, while a further 48% claim to connect to a home network – for example, a friend’s home WiFi or a rental home. Furthermore, over a third of Brits connect to airport WiFi (38%) or the WiFi on public transport (34%), despite 66% seeing WiFi networks as being the least safe to connect to, while only 15% claim to have never connected their devices while travelling.
Even though they’re always staying connect while on the move, almost half (44%) of Brits never check if a network is secure before connecting. McAfee’s research also revealed that less than half (45%) take the same online security measures when on-the-go as they would at home, leaving the majority of Brits ‘switched off’ when away – and leaving online security worries at home. In addition, less than half (47%) of Brits who feel they are more connected digitally since COVID-19 indicate to have implemented more protection for their devices, online activity or connected homes. Worryingly, this figure is lower than the global average.
Maintaining your digital wellness while on holiday
With rising connectivity and an increase in connected device purchases continuing in 2021, British consumers must understand the risks that having increased digital touchpoints can bring, and how to best protect their personal information, claims the cybersecurity company. McAfee’s research revealed that only a quarter (25%) of Brits think about how their digital wellness or hygiene can put others at risk when leaving their home.
British consumers, therefore, need to take initiative at all connection points in their travel journey, whether travelling in the UK or abroad, to maintain their digital wellness and online safety.
Says Raj Samani, Chief Scientist and McAfee Fellow:
“As many Brits look forward to a slightly more normal summer this year, and with staycations proving a popular choice for this year’s travel season, it is an opportunity for consumers to remember just how important maintaining your digital wellness and online security is outside the home.”
“Whether at home or away, there will still be many activities Brits will be looking to conduct online. From online banking to shopping, or streaming your favourite TV show when on-the-go, a simple mindset shift to remember the importance of connecting safely will go a long way to protecting your personal information.”
McAfee’s top tips on how Brits can protect themselves and others while travelling:
- Connect with caution. Be cautious when connecting to public Wi-Fi while on vacation and make sure the Wi-Fi is secure and attached to a trusted source. Ensure that you don’t conduct any financial transactions or share any personal details while on public Wi-Fi.
- Consider a holistic security solution. Understand what tools are available to you in order to give you peace of mind that your identity and personal information across all of our devices are safeguarded this summer travel season.
- Update your software. Before you travel, check for any software updates on your devices. Updates often fix security bugs and seal up cracks in the system.
- Keep devices protected and close. Distracted vacationers are the perfect target for thieves looking to steal devices – be it a phone, laptop, tablet, or game. Ensure accounts have multi-factor authentication to double-check the authenticity of digital users in case the device gets in the wrong hands.