Travel restrictions are about to be lifted in the UK, allowing holidaymakers to head abroad to certain countries without having to quarantine when they return. But regardless of whether you’re escaping to the sun or staying at home, it’s important not to forget about online security.

Over the past year or so the number of scams has exploded with countless examples of criminals tricking people into handing over their personal details on fake websites that they believe are genuine.

Identity theft is one of the things to watch out for at the moment and you can’t let down your guard just because you’re on holiday.

A recent survey by McAfee in the UK showed that about 70% of people connect to devices (such as smart TVs, smart speakers, streaming devices and games consoles) when visiting someone else’s home. 75% think there’s a low risk of doing so in a friend’s home.

Only 22% said that they expected the highest risk to be in a hotel and just 19% thought the risk would be high in a rented holiday home. Regardless, 44% never check if a network is secure before connecting to it and roughly the same proportion said they don’t take the same security precautions when travelling as they do at home.

“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,” said Raj Samani, Chief Scientist and McAfee Fellow. “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.”

The reality is that you should be cautious of connecting to other devices, especially public Wi-Fi networks that don’t ask for a password when your phone, laptop or tablet connects to it.

How to stay safe online when travelling

The advice is simple: use good security software on all the devices that support it, and use a VPN on public Wi-Fi networks such as in hotels, airports and even in rented holiday properties.

Also, make sure any devices you take on holiday are protected with a passcode or, ideally, a strong password and two-factor authentication. Phones and laptops are easily stolen from distracted holidaymakers and can be a goldmine of personal information for criminals.

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