To Unplug Or Not To Unplug? That Is The Holiday Question

If you’re heading away these holidays, it’s likely you’ve workshopped the idea of whether to ‘unplug’ – and I’m not referring to turning off your electricity. Unplugging means turning off devices and disconnecting from the internet – yes, a digital detox! Deep breaths, people, we can talk about this calmly.

New research commissioned by McAfee shows that 33% of us Aussies have gone on vacation in the past year with the aim of being unplugged. Not a bad effort really – although that does mean that 67% of us can’t go there yet, which – to be honest – includes moi!

Why Do Aussies Choose To Unplug?

According to the research, 68% of us who are able to unplug on holidays do so ‘to be more in the moment’, while 45% do it for stress relief and 45% just need to take a break from work – fair enough!

And a remarkable 78% of those who intended to unplug were successful and weren’t tempted to post a pic of their favourite holiday dinner on Instagram. Which is genuinely impressive.

Pros And Cons Of Unplugging

If you are looking for a reason to unplug then how about this? 72% of those who were successful in being unplugged during their vacation believed that it made their vacation more enjoyable. Some 57% stated that they felt more connected to the people they were with. And 31% did feel anxiety from being unplugged, but this was mostly members of Generation Z!

Personally, I’m not an ‘unplugger’ although I am in awe of those who are. Instead, I would describe myself as a ‘limiter’. When I’m on holidays I will check my emails and texts once a day and then put my phone away. I want to make sure that there are no volcanoes (metaphorical!) about to erupt and that my family and friends can contact me. So I’m one of the 61% who cite the need to be contactable by family and friends as a reason not to unplug. But whatever your strategy – unplugger, plugger or limiter – it is important to ensure technology does not rule your vacation.

Aussies Have A ‘She’ll Be Right Mate!‘ Approach To Travel Tech Safety

And for those of us who choose not to unplug – or just can’t remain unplugged – the research shows we are taking too many tech risks when we travel. Just under half of us (43%) don’t know how to tell whether a Wi-Fi network is secure. Some 41% of us think our personal info is just as secure when we connect to the internet whilst on holidays as it would be at home or work. And more than half of us (55%) don’t use a VPN (Virtual Private Network) when we are away.

How To Protect Our Digital Lives When We Travel

Clearly no-one wants to give up holidays. So, here are my top tips on how you can use technology and stay ‘plugged’ safely while you travel:

1. Avoid Public Or Open Wi-Fi

Wi-Fi is super attractive. It’s easy to use and usually free! But there are risks. It does not take much effort for a cybercrim to create a Wi-Fi network that looks legit, or hack into a reputable public Wi-Fi and intercept all the data that you share! So, unless you have a VPN – more about this later – steer clear.

2. Disable Public Folder Sharing If You Absolutely HAVE To Use Wi-Fi

If you have to use Wi-Fi then ensure you turn off public folder sharing. This will reduce the risk of a hacker accessing your files or attacking your computer. And remember: do NOT shop, bank or conduct any financial transactions or sensitive communication over unsecured Wi-Fi – no exceptions!

3. Turn On Your Laptop’s Firewall

It goes without saying that you need to protect your devices with comprehensive security software – that is a no brainer! And to add another layer of security when you travel, please turn on your laptop’s firewall. Many of us disable it as it can get quite fussy, however when you travel you want this! In short, enabling your firewall means you can protect your computer from unauthorised programs that could be a hacker trying to access your device remotely. Check out McAfee Total Protection for peace of mind.

4. Disable Bluetooth When Not Using

When your Bluetooth is active, hackers can see which networks you have connected to previously. It doesn’t take much effort for them to copy the networks and then fool your device into connecting to their Bluetooth devices. Before you know it, they can steal your data, spy on you and flood your device with malware – all without you even noticing!

5. Invest In A Virtual Private Network (VPN)

A VPN, like McAfee Safe Connect, is a great way to secure your online activity when connecting to Wi-Fi. In summary, it creates a secure connection to a network over the internet. Many companies insist their employees only connect remotely using one. In my opinion, it’s the best solution to the Wi-Fi issue.

6. Update Your Devices

If you don’t keep your devices’ operating systems and applications up-to-date, you’re essentially leaving a ‘back door’ open for a hacker. Ensure your devices are running the latest versions of the software and your apps are updated to avoid potential security vulnerabilities.

7. Use A Device Locating App

Losing your connected devices while on holiday can be a nightmare. Why not set up a location application – just in case – that can help you find, locate and even erase your device’s data in the event it’s lost or stolen? McAfee Mobile Security software (Android or iOS) can help you do all that in case of a disaster!

So, whether you are an unplugger, limiter or unapologetic plugger, ensuring technology doesn’t dominate our precious holidays with family and friends is essential. And when it comes time to connect when we are vacationing, remember to always play it safe. Why not invest in a VPN that the whole family – including the kids – can use while you’re away? I can guarantee it will increase the relaxation aspect of your vacation ten-fold!

Happy Holidaying!

Alex x

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