Only 54% of VPN users feel safe online, but is that optimistic or pessimistic? – Forbes Advisor

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KEY POINTS TO REMEMBER

  • 57% of cyberattacks happened while using a VPN
  • Only half of respondents say they use a VPN on public Wi-Fi
  • 42% of workers say they use their work VPN for personal streaming

Data has become the most valuable resource on the planet, and yet, unlike most valuable raw materials, there is no shortage of it and, for millions of hackers, it can be easy to find. The Internet is a deep source of rich information, containing everything from our personal photos, phone numbers, and email addresses to our home addresses, banking information, private conversations, and online behavior.

Those without a virtual private network (VPN) are not only more vulnerable to attacks and security breaches, but also pay more for flights and hotels, thanks to dynamic pricing, and are blocked from their services. favorite streaming services when traveling to certain countries.

With more online activity and sensitive data than ever before, it’s no surprise that using a VPN has become an absolute must. But are VPNs safe and do they really offer protection, or do they really provide a false sense of security?

VPN usage is on the rise, but so are cyberattacks in 2022

Cyberattacks are constantly in the headlines, but it’s not just global businesses and public figures that are being attacked, as the headlines might imply. Statistically, businesses are the primary target because they present more to a hacker for gain, but that doesn’t mean that individuals don’t present hackers with an easy entry point into larger entities. In fact, small businesses are three times more likely to be targeted by cybercriminals than large businesses.

With more and more people working from home and using personal devices for business purposes, individuals are increasingly being targeted. And because of ease of access, the number of attacks against small businesses is on the rise, as are losses from attacks.

Total reported losses from Internet crime, according to the FBI’s 2021 Internet Crime Report, increased 49% from 2020 to 2021, now representing $6.9 billion in losses. That’s almost a fivefold increase in the past five years alone.

What exactly is a VPN and why are they important?

If you’re not quite sure what exactly a VPN is, you’re not alone. In our survey, 43% of respondents could not say with certainty that they understand what a VPN is, while more than 60% of the US population would use a VPN, according to VPN usage data from Statista .

A VPN, or Virtual Private Network, is a service that anyone can use — and anyone who uses the Internet should use — to help protect your Internet connection and your privacy while online. When you use a secure VPN, your data is encrypted, which protects it from prying eyes and further protects you and your data from hackers.

Although the number one reason users said they used a VPN was for online security, VPNs also offer a myriad of other benefits. VPNs can block online tracking that can drive up the price of online purchases, such as flights and hotels, enable torrenting, hide your IP address, and even unblock streaming services while on the go.

Do VPNs offer real protection or a false sense of security?

For many, the idea of ​​having a VPN provides peace of mind. But is it justified or is it just smoke and mirrors? The best VPNs are secure, which definitely adds a layer of security online. However, a VPN can’t protect against all potential cyber threats, so while they’re smart, that shouldn’t be where your online security measures end. It’s not just which VPN you use that matters, but how, when and where you use it that can make a difference.

More than 50% of cyberattacks happened while using a VPN

Despite using a VPN, 57% of respondents said they had experienced a cyberattack. Although it may raise eyebrows at first glance, the reality is that a VPN can only help prevent certain types of attacks. For example, malware is the most common type of cybersecurity attack, yet a VPN cannot prevent you from clicking on malicious links and installing malware. In fact, human error remains one of the leading causes of cyberattacks, according to a Stanford study.

Only 6% of respondents use a VPN to protect their employer’s data

The boundaries between work and play have blurred since the widespread adoption of remote working. And while 66% of respondents use a VPN to protect their personal data, only 6% said they use a VPN to protect their employer’s data.

Only half of all respondents say they use a VPN on public Wi-Fi

One of the main benefits of using a VPN is to prevent hackers from stealing your sensitive data if an otherwise secure connection is lost. Yet only 50% of respondents use a VPN when on public Wi-Fi.

Over 40% of workers say they use their work VPN for personal streaming

While most users report using a VPN to protect their own personal data, those without a VPN are still likely to use their employer’s VPN for personal streaming. In other words, those with a VPN at home are driven to use their employer’s VPN, not for security, but to access geo-restricted content on top streaming services.

Moving the Dial to Online Safety

VPNs are a fundamental must-have in 2022. Certainly anyone looking to move the dial further and feel more secure while online should employ additional security measures. Whether it’s staying on top of phishing scams, using anti-virus software, and using a different email address (and different passwords) for your different accounts, it’s important to protect sensitive information using the main cybersecurity tips and tools available.

Survey methodology

This online survey was conducted among 2,000 American adults and was commissioned by Forbes Advisor. It was conducted by OnePoll, a market research company, in accordance with the Market Research Society’s code of conduct with a margin of error of +/- 2.2 points and a confidence level of 95%. This survey was overseen by the OnePoll research team, a member of the Market Research Society (MRS) and a member of the American Association for Public Opinion Research (AAPOR). For the full survey methodology, please contact [email protected]

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