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Brits’ holiday boasting puts home security at risk

With summer holiday season kicking off, McAfee reveals half (51%) of Brits couldn’t go more than two days without checking social media while they’re on holiday. A third (34%) said they post on social media in real-time while they’re away, with 70% of those who post saying they don’t care if people outside of their friends and family see their holiday snaps.

Additionally, one in five (19%) tag their holiday location when they post, openly advertising that they are away from home. Yet 25% don’t think about the security risk to their homes and personal belongings, when doing so.

Nick Viney, Vice President of Consumer at McAfee commented: “We discovered one new cyber-threat every three seconds in the fourth quarter of 2016. Famous attacks on Wonga and Three, for example, led to hundreds of thousands of people’s personal information being stolen. This means Brits’ addresses are readily available within cybercriminal circles. It doesn’t take much for criminals to join the dots and work out which premises are empty.”

 Fear Of Logging Off (FOLO) is declining

Despite the urge to log on to social media, Britons are increasingly unplugging from their connected lives while on holiday. In fact, 58% plan to connect to the internet while away, down 21% from last year. This is further supported by findings that Brits feel less anxious about the thought of a digital detox; only 35% say the thought of unplugging makes them anxious, compared with 42% in 2016.

However, awareness of the security risks associated with logging on from abroad remains low. Despite 27% reporting that they believe Wi-Fi connections to be less secure on holiday, 55% admitted they do not know how to tell if the connection is secure. This doesn’t deter consumers from connecting though, as 54% said they would use an unsecure connection rather than go without.

Nick Viney added: “With so many unsecure connections on offer, 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.”

Holidays are prime time for a spot of phishing

 McAfee’s latest findings show a third of Brits (32%) have received an email supposedly from a friend, which they later found out to be fraudulent. A quarter (25%) either included a link to an illegitimate deal or asked for money to be transferred. Such attempts are known as phishing.

Social media profiles offer a huge amount of information that cybercriminals can use to personalise their attacks when impersonating a friend or family member over email.

A lady from Wolverhampton, who wished to remain anonymous – emphasising the embarrassment that phishing scams can lead to – shared her experience which resulted in her giving away more than £5,000:

I’m a retired teacher and I received an email from what I thought was an ex-colleague and good friend. It said that her bag had been stolen and she was stuck at a teaching conference in Europe and that she had no way of getting home. As the email asked, I went straight to a Western Union and transferred £2,000 to help get her home and cover hotel costs.

 When I got home, there was an email thanking me for helping her in such a tough situation, but that the amount I’d sent wasn’t enough and she needed more. I would do anything to help my friends and I didn’t think twice about sending more money.

 When I didn’t hear back from her the next day I gave her a call. To my complete horror, she knew nothing about this. These criminals manipulated me into believing she was stuck in a distressing situation. I am convinced they used social media to work out how close we were and identify that our connection was through teaching.

 Nick Viney commented: “In our connected world, where so much information is shared without question, you have to be on your guard. Cybercriminals can use the information available on social media to build convincing stories as to why friends and family members are asking for money. It’s always a good idea to reach out to the friend in question via a different method of communication to ensure it’s a legitimate request.”

 McAfee’s tips to help secure your personal information and devices:

  •  Verify requests for money. Always double check that requests you receive via email or SMS are legitimate. People often like to think they’d do anything for friends with no questions asked but this is no longer a sensible option. Verify through another form of communication and only transfer if you are 100% confident that you are genuinely helping a friend in need and not lining the pockets of cybercriminals.
  • Resist the urge to post while you play. To avoid advertising that you are away and your house is empty, save the jealousy-inducing posts until you’re back in the UK. It’s also a good idea to double check your privacy settings. If you’re posting to the public, make it clear that your posts are throwbacks or flashbacks so your home doesn’t become an easy target.
  • 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) like McAfee Safe Connect. A VPN will keep your information private and ensure that data goes straight from your device to where you are connecting.
  • Update your devices. The first line of defense for your devices is you, so it’s important to take a few precautions to stay safe. Make sure your devices’ operating system and applications are kept updated. Using old versions of software could leave you open to potential security vulnerabilities.
  • Install cross-device security. After you’ve updated your devices with the latest software install comprehensive security. A solution like McAfee LiveSafe can help your devices stay clear of viruses and other unwanted malware.
  • 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.


Survey Methodology

 In March 2017, McAfee commissioned MSI International to conduct an online study of 9,500 people who use a connected device daily in Australia, France, Germany, U.K. and U.S. The survey included individuals between 18-55 split evenly by gender.

About McAfee

 McAfee is one of the world’s leading independent cybersecurity companies. Inspired by the power of working together, McAfee creates business and consumer solutions that make the world a safer place.

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