A recent cyber security survey revealed that 65% of U.S. workers in the technology sector use a virtual private network (VPN) on their phones and computers.
The Wombat Security survey conducted a study on 2000 adults (1000 from the United States and 1000 from the United Kingdom) and revealed that 41% participants use a VPN on their personal laptop, and 31% have VPNs installed on their mobile devices. While a large amount of that usage comes from the fact that VPNs are installed by companies to protect their own company data, it’s still a remarkable indication of how awareness about digital privacy has grown.
VPN provider NordVPN has noted a 300% increase in new customers in both the USA and UK since legislations were passed that allowed Internet Service Providers to sell their customers’ data and allow government access to that data for increased control over its citizens.
In the recent years, cyber security on an individual level has come under threat and a person’s confidential data is completely up for grabs. For example, in Germany, the data retention act requires telecom companies to maintain detailed records of phone calls, text messages, and IP addresses.
Other countries go even further and retain records of biometrics, sexual life, religion etc. The UK has enacted its infamous Investigatory Powers Act (Snoopers’ Charter) that allows the government to monitor, record, and intercept its citizens’ communications freely. The U.S has similar policies and 2017 will see further privacy infringement.
With so many companies, agencies, and governments having free access to users’ private and very valuable information, there is a great fear that the information will not be managed efficiently and may fall into the wrong hands. The sheer amount of data is overwhelming and it is likely there will not be enough measures taken to ensure the security of that information and that at any point in the process – the data collection, storage or use – can be mishandled or exposed. All we can do is take our digital privacy and security into our hands.
Using a VPN enables you to be anonymous and to use a secure and encrypted connection to another computer or server at a remote location over the public internet. With a VPN, all traffic between your device and the end location gets encrypted with bank-level security. All your data and passwords remain private and out of reach for hackers.
The other option and one that is a really basic first step to securing your privacy is to be smarter in what you share online, how you share it, and with whom you share it.