Consumers aware of travel cyber risks, still not putting their digital wellness first

68% of Americans plan to travel for leisure this summer, with 12% doing so internationally, a McAfee survey reveals. While 68% of U.S. consumers report that they are connected to more devices and digital activity since the start of the pandemic, roughly half have implemented additional levels of security protection. This figure is lower than the global average of 61%.

cyber risks travel

Most surprisingly, 55% of respondents indicate that their travel preferences have shifted in the wake of COVID-19, with hotels and motels ranking as the most preferred accommodations (43%), followed by staying with family or friends (37%).

While travelers may have altered their accommodation preferences due to the pandemic, they are not properly translating that same increased cautiousness into their digital safety.

“As travel becomes an actual possibility for people once again, it’s an opportunity to remember just how important maintaining your digital wellness and security is outside the home,” said Judith Bitterli, SVP of McAfee Consumer Marketing.

“Whether people are at home or away, there will be banking to do, chances to shop online, and moments to stream a few shows while at the airport or on the road. This simple mindset shift goes a long way in protecting our personal information.”

Discrepancy of consumers sentiments and behaviors

There is a discrepancy between consumers’ sentiments and behaviors, as well as security best practices while home and away. Notable, 73% of U.S. consumers indicated that they connect to devices when visiting a home that isn’t their own, potentially making them more vulnerable to risks this summer, as they are more connected and less protected.

Consumers say they are aware of the cyber risks associated with their travels, but they don’t always take the necessary steps to remain protected. Some key findings include:

  • 55% of consumers check if a network is secure before connecting and 45% report that they do not take the same online security measures while on holiday vs. at home.
  • While on the go, 44% admit to connecting to public Wi-Fi, although 62% perceive Wi-Fi networks as the most vulnerable to cyber threats.
  • 49% say vacation home rentals are amongst their top 2 most preferred accommodations – despite 66% revealing that they perceive risks associated them.
  • Americans admit to connecting to devices (both personal and public), as well as foreign networks during their vacations – the most mentioned include personal devices such as laptops and computers (37%), smart TVs (39%) and streaming devices (35%).

Maintaining your digital wellness while on vacation

With rising connectivity and device adoption continuing in 2021, consumers must understand the cyber risks of increased digital touchpoints, and how to best protect their personal information. They need to take initiative at all connection points in their travel journey, actively maintaining their digital wellness.

A path consumers can take to protect themselves and others:

  • 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 device gets in the wrong hands.

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