If you’re one of those people who can’t stop reading email on your smartphone while on vacation, you’re not alone.
Cybersecurity firm McAfee found in a poll that 54 percent of vacationers could not last a full day without using their device for texting. The poll also found that 52 percent spend at least one hour a day with internet-connected devices while on vacation. And 57 percent of respondents went on vacation with the intent to stay connected and not unplug from their devices.
What a pitiful lot we are! McAfee, however, has a warning for consumers as they prepare for summer vacation. The survey found that vacationers tend to put convenience ahead of security by logging onto unsecured Wi-Fi access points that are easily hackable. And that means they run the risk of having their personal information compromised.
“Our devices are extensions of ourselves that we rely on for more tasks every day,” said Gary Davis, chief consumer security evangelist at McAfee, in a statement. “Individuals must exercise caution when using their devices on vacation. By taking basic security precautions and avoiding unnecessary risks, consumers can better protect personal information, making their vacation more enjoyable knowing they are connecting with confidence.”
Wi-Fi networks are becoming ubiquitous in vacation spots (You can even get Wi-Fi on Mount Everest). But the 43 percent who intended to unplug while on vacation turned out to be much happier, and 81 percent reported a more enjoyable vacation.
Thirty-eight percent could not last a day without checking their work or personal email, while 27 percent admitted checking email constantly throughout the day, and 37 percent could not resist the urge to post social media while vacationing.
Laptops were the most common device left behind (72 percent), but only 27 percent were willing to leave their smartphone behind. The most common reason individuals avoid unplugging was to be reachable by family and friends (62 percent).
About 31 percent of people connected to public Wi-Fi hotspots, leaving them open to potential security risks. Fifty-eight percent said they know how to determine if their Wi-Fi is secure, but only 49 percent take the time to check their connections.
Twenty-one percent don’t consider the security of their Wi-Fi connection, and for 32 percent, how much they need to connect determines whether they will use the unsecured Wi-Fi.
And some people are completely clueless. Fifteen percent of travelers believe their personal information and data are more secure while traveling than at home.
The survey found 69 percent of people in their 20s and 30s would prefer to completely unplug on vacation, compared with less than half of individuals in their 40s (49 percent) who would choose to unplug if work were not a factor.
Most parents think devices should take a backseat on vacation, with 51 percent planning to unplug, compared with 35 percent of individuals without children. Parents were only slightly more successful at abstaining from tech, with 82 percent declaring success, compared with 78 percent of people without children.
While 77 percent of parents allow their children to use connected devices while traveling, 73 percent of these parents claim to monitor their child’s usage.
McAfee’s advice: You should browse securely when away from home. Ensure that you are connecting securely while traveling and avoid using public or unsecured Wi-Fi networks. If you absolutely must connect to a public Wi-Fi network, use a Virtual Private Network (VPN). A VPN will keep your information private and ensure that data goes straight from your device to your connection.
The company also suggests that you update your devices. After you’ve updated your devices with the latest software, you should then install comprehensive, cross-device security.
You would also be wise to use a device-locating app. If you lose your connected device, especially on vacation, it can be difficult to recover. Location applications can help you find, lock, and even erase your device’s data in the event of theft or loss.
McAfee commissioned MSI International to do an online survey of 9,500 people in five countries: Australia, France, Germany, the United Kingdom, and the U.S. The survey included individuals between 18-55, split evenly by gender.