Today, now more than ever, we’re able to access a wide range of information on the internet and it’s made the world feel more connected than ever before. With the advent of the recent technological boom, coupled with a pandemic that forced millions of people to stay at home, cybersecurity has been somewhat overlooked, even as cybercrime is on the rise.
Between 2020 and 2021, as the world was amid the global pandemic, cyber hackers saw this as a perfect opportunity to infiltrate company databases and target individuals who were spending more time on the internet due to lockdown orders.
In 2020, ransomware attacks increased by more than 150% compared to 2019, while the amount of ransom paid to hackers jumped by roughly 300% in the same year. By 2021, the same trend was ticking upwards, and by mid-2021, more than 5 billion data records from private companies and individuals have already been leaked.
Cybersecurity is now becoming a national threat to businesses, companies, government institutions, and private users. As more of these entities move online, and with remote work now the norm – data protection leaks and cyber crimes are leaving online users exposed, opening a door for anyone, or any company to track and retrieve your personal information.
As the need for more online platforms and services increases, users are faced with the growing challenge of ensuring their private information and data are kept encrypted, without being leaked or hacked.
The security software market has witnessed an immense increase in annual revenue since the start of 2020. By 2020, global revenues reach an estimated $40 billion, by 2021, revenue topped more than $42 billion globally.
It’s no surprise that companies who design and sell security software have been experiencing popular support, as users are becoming more aware of how their online data is shared and even misused on the internet.
There is however a middle ground that combines user experience, safety, and data protection, with the need for developers and researchers to create software programs that can help add a layer of protection when browsing the internet, or downloading movies – it’s called VPN or Virtual Private Networks.
What is a VPN?
A Virtual Private Network sort of acts as a barrier or tunnel, protecting your IP address (a unique code assigned to your computer) from any third-party advertisers, government entities, spies, and hackers.
When using a VPN service, a security system will hide your IP address when you access the internet. This way, your information is encrypted and kept safe as long as the VPN is activated.
Simply put, VPNs encrypt your traffic, thus whatever you search on the internet goes unnoticed by your internet provider and search engines. This way, you can easily browse through the web without being noticed, but it doesn’t give you full anonymity.
VPNs were designed to give you a sense of disclosure and added security. Nowadays, we’re constantly connected to the internet and public wifi. Connecting to an open wifi source means that any person who’s also connected can easily if they want to, trace your data and information.
Ultimately, it’s a bit more complex than this, as it entails a lot of coding and data reconfiguration that takes place through various connections and servers that help keep your IP address and identity in the shadows.
Why Using a VPN is important in 2022
By now we’re all well aware of the online threats that are quietly lurking beneath the screen. As millions of users take to the internet each day for various reasons, some are left well exposed to potential online threats.
A Global VPN Adoption Index showed just how popular VPN downloads and adoption have become in the last few years.
In total, more than 785 million VPNs were downloaded in 2021, this marked a 184% increase from 2020, with countries such as Qatar, United Arab Emirates, and Singapore having the highest percentage of VPN adoption.
While there has been an increase in downloads, not all thereof are used for security and encryption purposes.
Some websites and platforms have a geoblock, whereby certain citizens can’t access their features or services. Various countries around the world will either partially or completely ban the use of certain websites and streaming services – but with a VPN, a user can bypass these security measures and access it as if they were doing so from a different or foreign country.
VPNs were designed to give users a layer of security, and more anonymity, helping to encrypt their information and data, keeping it out of reach for any third party individual or company.
Keeping Your Data Secured Will Become Even More Difficult
A lot of users, perhaps you’re one of them, isn’t that worried about the trail of digital information you leave scattered when browsing the web.
Whether it may not be an issue for you yet, secrecy and privacy are only going to become a bigger issue in the next few years as more and more users are making it easier for cyberhackers and companies to track and use your data.
There’s no real indication as to what cyber hackers or third-party advertisers will do with your data, but in most cases, they sell this off to companies and corporations which they then use to compile a dossier of new clients and consumers to market for.
Have you recently received an anonymous phone call from a company looking to sell your life insurance? Perhaps you were browsing through the internet looking for something specific, only to see an ad for that same item pop up on your Facebook feed.
There’s a lot of development and research that goes into sourcing, distributing, and using your browsing data, and private companies are rapidly profiting from it.
Security-based software and tech-heavy innovations are becoming a solution to combat the atrocities of cybercrime and hacking. Using VPNs might give you a bit of secrecy and security, but it’s best advised to not solely rely on these types of software systems alone, and ensure that your online experience is kept private and secure.