Archive for Atlas VPN

Guest Post: 80% of education providers hit with ransomware last year, Biden administration responds

Posted in Commentary with tags on September 20, 2023 by itnerd

As the 2023 academic year kicks off, schools across the globe are facing an escalating cybersecurity crisis, the Atlas VPN team reports

Data shows the education sector is the most targeted industry by cybercriminals, primarily motivated by the high percentage of schools choosing to pay the ransom.

A recent Sophos survey of 3,000 IT and cybersecurity leaders across 14 countries, including 400 from the education sector, conducted in January-March 2023, reveals that 80% of lower education providers and 79% of higher education institutions reported ransomware attacks in the last year. 

Construction (71%), the federal government (70%), and media & entertainment (70%) are also within the top five most targeted industries by ransomware attacks, but at a notably lower rate than educational establishments.

The vulnerability landscape

The survey identifies compromised credentials and exploited vulnerabilities as the top root causes of ransomware attacks in education. 

In lower education, 36% of attacks originated from compromised credentials, while in higher education, 40% were due to exploited vulnerabilities. 

These figures indicate a need for robust cybersecurity measures and employee training in educational institutions.

Financial and operational costs

While the immediate financial cost of a ransomware attack is evident, the recovery from the attack also includes the cost of system downtime, loss of productivity, and reputational damage. 

The mean cost to recover from ransomware attacks across all sectors is estimated at $1.82 million, an increase from the $1.4 million in 2022.

In lower education, the recovery costs have remained steady at around $1.59 million in 2023 and 2022. 

Recovery costs in higher education have decreased significantly from the $1.42 million reported last year to just over $1 million in 2023.

Governmental interventions

Meanwhile, On August 7, 2023, the Biden-Harris Administration released a statement outlining new efforts to strengthen America’s K-12 schools’ cybersecurity. 

The new initiatives aim to provide up to $200 million over three years to bolster cyber defenses in K-12 schools. 

A Government Coordinating Council will also be established to facilitate communication between federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial education leaders to enhance US schools’ cyber defenses and resilience.

To read the full report, head over to: 

Guest Post: Big tech doesn’t care about your digital rights

Posted in Commentary with tags on August 30, 2023 by itnerd

Big tech companies talk a big game about privacy and freedom of expression, but their policies and practices often undermine it.

According to the data presented by the Atlas VPN team, Twitter scored the best on its policies and practices affecting people’s rights to freedom of expression and privacy. While Amazon and Tencent got the worst ratings for their actions on people’s digital rights. However, none of the companies earned a passing grade.

Twitter (currently X) received the best score of 56% on practices and policies they have on governance, freedom of expression, and privacy. The company took the top spot for its detailed content policies and public data about moderation of user-generated content.

Yahoo got 54% on the digital rights scorecard. Microsoft received 50% on its practices and policies around digital rights. Microsoft lacks comprehensive policies protecting freedom of expression. 

Google scored 47%, but its score declined for the second straight year due to outdated policies. Meta got 46% despite releasing a new human rights policy. Apple, which often boasts about its privacy commitments, scored 44%. 

On the flip side, Amazon and Tencent scored an awful 25% due to significant shortcomings in policies and practices affecting digital rights.

Cybersecurity writer at Atlas VPN, Vilius Kardelis, shares his thoughts on people’s digital rights:

“Big tech’s relentless data collection and algorithms working without oversight threaten privacy and freedom of expression. Individuals should educate themselves, minimize data sharing, and use privacy tools to take more control of their digital rights in their own hands.”

To read the full article, head over to:

Guest Post: Cyberattacks against governments are on the rise in 2023

Posted in Commentary with tags on August 28, 2023 by itnerd

According to the data presented by the Atlas VPN team, in the first half of 2023, there were 49 significant cyber incidents concerning government agencies — a rise of 11% from the same time last year. The attacks affected government bodies in at least 27 countries across the world. 

The analysis is based on the information by the Center for Strategic and International Studies, which keeps track of significant cyber incidents. We focused only on cases involving government agencies, their representatives, or contractors. 

This year, government agencies in the United States encountered the greatest number of attacks, with 16% specifically aimed at the country. The extended conflict between Russia and Ukraine has also resulted in a number of cyber incidents against state government entities in the countries.

When it comes to potential perpetrators, Russian hackers are at the forefront, believed to be responsible for approximately 29% of these attacks. Following closely are cybercriminals associated with China, accounting for 18%, while Iran ranks third with 10%.

Government agencies accumulate and store a significant amount of sensitive data, such as personal information about individual citizens. This data can be sold on the dark web or held hostage until a ransom is paid, which makes these agencies an attractive target for cybercriminals.

Apart from monetary motives, roughly a quarter (12) of all cyberattacks targeting government agencies worldwide in 2023 can be attributed to state-linked threat actors engaged in cyberespionage campaigns. Additionally, hacktivist activity played a role, constituting approximately 10% of the recorded incidents within the government sector during the first half of 2023. 

Since 2005, government agencies worldwide have experienced a total of 616 significant cyberattacks. More than half of these — 56% — occurred just in the last five years, including the first half of 2023.

The full report is available here:


Guest Post: Latvians and Finnish use the most mobile data

Posted in Commentary with tags on August 17, 2023 by itnerd

Mobile data has become an essential part of daily life for many people worldwide. With smartphones and other web-enabled devices, we now have constant access to information, entertainment, and communication at our fingertips.

According to the data presented by the Atlas VPN team, Latvians and Finnish people use up the most mobile data per month among the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries. In addition, each Estonian has about 2 mobile broadband subscriptions.

Latvians lead in mobile data usage, averaging nearly 42 gigabytes per month per mobile broadband subscription. Latvia’s high mobile data consumption may be driven by widespread access to high-speed mobile networks in urban areas and unlimited provider data plans.

Finland ranks second globally in monthly mobile data use, with citizens browsing away 41 gigabytes on average.

Austria has the third-highest rate of mobile data consumption, averaging around 30 gigabytes per month. Lithuanians also rank high in mobile data usage, browsing through 28 gigabytes monthly on average. Iceland demonstrates high mobile data consumption for its population as well, with citizens using 24 gigabytes per month on average.

The average mobile data usage among OECD countries is almost 9 gigabytes. Countries like the United States, UK, and Germany all fall below this average.

Cybersecurity writer at Atlas VPN, Vilius Kardelis, shares his thoughts on mobile data usage:

“Mobile connectivity is convenient, but it can lead to overuse and dependency. Moderation and balance are essential. As networks continue improving globally, average mobile usage rates will likely rise. The future will undoubtedly bring innovations integrating mobile technology even deeper into our lifestyles.”

Who is most connected?

Analyzing the volume of mobile data consumption reveals fascinating insights. However, looking at mobile broadband subscription rates per 100 inhabitants provides further knowledge on how much people browse.

Each Estonian has about 2 mobile broadband subscriptions. Estonia’s citizens extensively use mobile networks not just for smartphones but also for other internet-connected devices. 

Japan likewise has extremely high mobile broadband penetration, with citizens subscribed to nearly 2 mobile networks on average. The United States ranks third, with an average of 1.8 mobile broadband subscriptions per citizen.

Finland, which is second in mobile data consumption, has a broadband subscription rate of 1.6 per person. At the same time, Israel and Denmark demonstrate a rate of 1.4 mobile broadband subscriptions per citizen.

To read the full article, head over to:


Guest Post: Global VPN Adoption Trends In H1 2023

Posted in Commentary with tags on August 15, 2023 by itnerd

With International VPN Day just around the corner, Atlas VPN presents the latest VPN adoption trends across the globe. During the first half of 2023, global VPN downloads reached 130 million, but where was VPN usage most prominent? With International VPN Day just around the corner, Atlas VPN presents the latest VPN adoption trends across the globe. During the first half of 2023, global VPN downloads reached 130 million, but where was VPN usage most prominent? 

Atlas VPN research team analyzed and ranked 85 countries in terms of VPN usage from 2020 to H1 2023. The VPN penetration rate was calculated by summing up VPN downloads by country and dividing them by the country’s population. The VPN download data was extracted from Google Play and Apple App Store using Sensor Tower and AppTweak services. Download data includes the 45 biggest VPN providers.

See the full VPN Adoption dataset here


In H1 2023, Singapore stood as the torchbearer of VPN adoption, with over 1.1 million downloads among its population of 5.85 million, representing a VPN adoption index of 19.32%. People in Singapore use VPNs for various reasons, includng privacy concerns, security needs, and the desire to access restricted content.

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) secured the second position with 16.94% VPN adoption in H1 2023. Qatar users also continue to be fond of VPN services, with a 15.33% adoption rate.

As expected, Saudi Arabia is among the countries with the highest VPN usage, recording an 11.02% adoption rate.

This consistently high VPN penetration in the Gulf region is caused by strict internet censorship regulations that restrict access to certain websites, social media platforms, and content deemed culturally or politically sensitive.

European landscape: growing interest

The Netherlands witnessed consistent adoption, with a 10.43% rate in H1 2023, suggesting a well-informed populace prioritizing online security. Similarly, the UK displayed a 7.23% adoption rate in H1 2023, indicating that a significant portion of its population recognizes the value of VPNs.

Luxembourg’s adoption rate of 7.09% in H1 2023 shows the country’s continued interest in VPNs. France maintains a notable adoption index of 6.92% and, like many other EU countries, experienced a growth trajectory over the years, reflecting the broader trend of Europeans embracing VPNs.


The journey through VPN adoption from 2020 to H1 2023 presents a fascinating narrative of global digital awareness. The data underscores the heightened awareness of digital privacy, online security, and the significance of maintaining control over one’s online identity. 

Nations like Singapore and the UAE have emerged as trailblazers in VPN adoption, while other countries have shown steady growth.

To see the full VPN Adoption campaign by Atlas VPN, please click here

Guest Post: Credit Bureau fraud surged to 500,000 cases in H1 2023, FTC reports

Posted in Commentary with tags on August 9, 2023 by itnerd

Data analyzed by Atlas VPN reveals the threat of credit bureau scams has escalated, leading to an alarming rise in cases of identity theft and financial fraud.  

This article delves into the evolving landscape of credit bureau scams, integrating data provided by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) spanning from the first quarter of 2019 to the second quarter of 2023.  

During the first half of this year, the FTC has already received 517,128 credit bureau fraud reports, a record amount since the start of the reporting period in 2019. 

 The data for 2019 shows a relatively modest start with 35,853 credit bureau fraud reports in the first quarter. However, by the end of the year, the numbers had risen to 42,285—an increase of nearly 18% in four quarters. This precursor hinted at the looming escalation of credit bureau scams that would follow in the subsequent years. 

The year 2020 witnessed an abrupt surge in credit bureau fraud reports, reflecting a global shift towards remote operations and heightened digital interactions due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Starting at 53,945 reports in Q1, the numbers swelled to 101,850 by Q4—a staggering 89% increase. This surge can be attributed to the heightened vulnerability of individuals to phishing attacks and data breaches as scammers capitalized on the pandemic-induced confusion. 

As the pandemic persisted into 2021, the number of credit bureau fraud reports remained consistently high. Q1 of 2021 saw a substantial increase to 141,613 reports, marking a 39% rise from the previous quarter. While the numbers remained elevated, the increase was not as pronounced as the previous year. This trend suggested that individuals and institutions were adapting to the new digital landscape and implementing more stringent security measures. 

The year 2022 displayed a pattern of gradual escalation and refinement in scam techniques. With 192,547 reports in Q4, an increase of nearly 49% from the beginning of the year, scammers were evidently honing their strategies to exploit the evolving digital landscape. This might indicate a shift towards more sophisticated approaches, targeting unsuspecting victims using innovative tactics like spear phishing and AI-generated scam messages. 

The first half of 2023 exhibited an alarming growth in credit bureau fraud, with 243,293 reports in the first quarter and 273,835 in the second. This surge likely reflects fraudsters capitalizing on an increased reliance on digital transactions, remote work arrangements, and a growing pool of leaked data.

The Anatomy of credit bureau scams 

Fraudsters gather personal data from various sources, including data breaches, social media profiles, phishing emails, or even dumpster diving for discarded documents. This information may include full names, addresses, Social Security numbers, and financial details. 

Armed with stolen information, scammers proceed to create false identities or fictitious accounts with the credit bureaus. They pose as legitimate individuals and submit fraudulent applications for credit cards, loans, or other financial services. 

Once the fake accounts are established, the fraudsters regularly monitor the credit reports of their victims. They keep track of credit scores and activities, ensuring that the deception remains undetected. 

With access to the victim’s credit lines, the scammers go on a spending spree, amassing debts on the fraudulent accounts. These expenses may include lavish purchases, cash advances, or transferring funds to offshore accounts. 

To avoid arousing suspicion, fraudsters often make minimum payments on fraudulent accounts, disguising the true nature of their activities. They may also use techniques like ‘bust-out fraud,’ where they max out credit limits and abandon the accounts before moving on to new ones. 

As the debts accumulate, the victim’s credit score plummets, causing significant damage to their financial standing and reputation. The burden of repaying debts they never incurred can take years to resolve, causing emotional distress and financial hardship. 

To read the full article, head over to:

Guest Post: Internet users are estimated to reach 6 billion in the next 5 years

Posted in Commentary with tags on August 3, 2023 by itnerd

The internet has become an indispensable part of our lives, transforming how we communicate and access information. As we look ahead, the internet’s influence is set to surge even further.

According to estimations by the Atlas VPN team, the number of internet users is projected to surpass 6 billion within the next five years.

As of 2023, there are approximately 5.16 billion internet users globally, accounting for 64.4% of the world’s population. By 2028, this number is expected to rise by nearly a fifth (19%) and reach 6.13 billion. 

These estimations are based on historic internet user data provided by DataReportal.

Internet user numbers and penetration rates vary widely around the globe. Developed countries typically boast internet penetration rates of over 80%, while those with less advanced cyberspace can hover below 50%. Surprisingly, the top 20 countries alone account for a staggering 3.67 billion internet users, representing 71% of the world’s total. 

China currently leads the world in terms of the largest internet user population, with 1.05 billion users, comprising over 20% of the total global internet users. Overall,73.7% of China’s population has internet access.

India, the second most populous country as of January 2023, holds the second spot on the list with 692 million internet users. However, only about 48.7% of India’s population has internet access, ranking it below the world’s average. In fact, India has the highest number of unconnected people worldwide, with over 730 million individuals lacking internet access.’

Next on the list is the United States (US), with 311.3 million internet users, which translates to approximately 91.8% of its population having internet access.

The US is followed by Indonesia and Brazil, with 212.9 million and 181.8 million internet users, respectively. 77% of Indonesia’s population has internet access, while Brazil’s rate is slightly higher at 84.3%. Brazilians also rank second in terms of time spent online.

Other countries in the top ten include Russia (127.6 million), Nigeria (122.5 million), Japan (102.5 million), Mexico (100.6 million), and the Philippines (85.16 million).

The digital future

As the number of internet users continues to climb steadily and technology evolves exponentially, the digital landscape is poised for profound transformations, ushering in new opportunities and challenges that will shape the future of our interconnected world.

As the number of internet users grows, so do the risks associated with data privacy and cybersecurity. Cyber threats, data breaches, and identity theft are increasingly prevalent in a hyper-connected world. 

Not surprisingly, most Americans regard cyberterrorism as the most pressing danger to the United States, according to a Gallup poll on world affairs.

To read the full article, head over to: 

Guest Post: Gallup poll: Americans fear cyberterrorism more than nuclear war

Posted in Commentary with tags on July 18, 2023 by itnerd

According to a Gallup poll on world affairs, cyberterrorism is regarded by a majority of Americans as the most pressing danger to the United States. A staggering 85% of respondents identified it as a “critical threat,” surpassing all other concerns, the Atlas VPN team found.

Results are based on telephone interviews conducted February 1-23, 2023, with a random sample of 1,008 adults, ages 18+, living in all 50 US states and the District of Columbia. The margin of sampling error is ±4 percentage points at the 95% confidence level.

Consensus on the severity of the cyberterrorism threat spanned across political affiliations, with both Democrats and Republicans rating it as a critical threat at a rate of 86%. Among Independents, 79% expressed similar concerns.

Gallup’s Mohamad Younis observed that since 2021, American citizens consistently perceive cyberterrorism as the foremost critical threat to vital U.S. security interests. Prior to that, international terrorism and the development of nuclear weapons by Iran and North Korea were the primary concerns. However, worry regarding these issues has declined over the past decade.

The Department of Defense also shares apprehensions about cyberterrorism. In a 2022 report, the department highlighted the significant threat posed not only by state actors like China and Russia but also by independent criminal organizations.

Mieke Eoyang, the deputy assistant Secretary of Defense for Cyber Policy, commented on the evolving landscape, stating that the capabilities once exclusive to state actors are now available for purchase on the dark web due to the emergence of non-state actors in the criminal cyber market.

Development of nuclear weapons remains concerning

The poll also revealed that respondents almost equally viewed North Korea and Iran’s development of nuclear weapons as the second most critical threat, with Iran marginally higher at 74%. Concerns about the nuclear capabilities of these two countries have consistently ranked high on the threat list, although this year’s responses fell about 10% short of previous record highs.

The survey unveiled notable shifts in public opinion regarding the military power of China, immigration, and climate change. Political biases became apparent as Republicans were more likely to consider China and immigration as critical threats, while Democrats perceived climate change as a greater concern.

The most significant disparity between political parties was observed in the areas of immigration and climate change. Immigration was regarded as a critical threat by 84% of Republicans compared to only 20% of Democrats. Conversely, climate change was deemed a critical threat by 85% of Democrats but only 21% of Republicans.

Parties agree on the importance of cybersecurity 

In contrast to other policy matters, cybersecurity has emerged as one of the few areas where lawmakers from both parties are actively investing and prioritizing.

On March 21, 2023, a bipartisan duo of senators introduced two bills designed to bolster the US cyber workforce and enhance the federal government’s ability to combat cyber threats.

The primary objective of these programs is to ensure that the government possesses the necessary cyber expertise to effectively “defeat, deter, or respond to malicious cyber activity,” as stated in a press release.

Since 2022, lawmakers have introduced and successfully passed several other bipartisan bills addressing cybersecurity concerns, particularly those aimed at safeguarding critical infrastructure such as the healthcare and energy sectors.

To read the full article, head over to:

Guest Post: Cybercriminals loot over $600 million from crypto projects in H1 2023

Posted in Commentary with tags on July 10, 2023 by itnerd

A new year brings a new wave of cyber incidents for the crypto sphere. According to the analysis by the Atlas VPN team, various crypto projects and their clients lost a whopping $666,354,302 to 125 cyberattacks in the first half of 2023.  

Nevertheless, compared to the same period last year, crypto-related cyber incidents and losses are declining.  

The Binance Smart Chain (BSC) ecosystem experienced the highest number of incidents, totaling 30, resulting in losses of $25,137,913. Meanwhile, the Ethereum (ETH) ecosystem faced the most significant financial losses, with hackers plundering $265,237,633 from multiple Ethereum-related projects in 29 separate incidents. 

Following closely in terms of losses is the Polygon ecosystem, which endured $122,685,000 in damages caused by only four cyber attacks. Additionally, various crypto wallets suffered losses of $109,200,000. 

In total, 22% of cases were a result of malicious actors exploiting contract vulnerabilities. Furthermore, 14% of the incidents involved social media hacks that were subsequently utilized for social engineering attacks, ultimately leading to the extraction of funds from unsuspecting victims. 

Crypto scams rob holders of nearly $250 million

It is not just the hackers who are to blame for the theft of crypto funds. Sometimes it is the crypto projects themselves. 

In the first half of this year, fraudsters swindled a staggering $248,769,543 from crypto enthusiasts. During the initial quarter, victims lost $9,355,832 to crypto scams, while the losses skyrocketed by 2,459% and reached $239,413,711 in the second quarter. 

Cryptocurrency-related cybercrime is highly appealing to thieves because cryptocurrency payments lack legal protections or government assurances, while chances of recovering lost funds are nearly nonexistent.  

Choosing crypto services carefully, avoiding too-good-to-be-true offers and get-rich-quick schemes, and refraining from responding to unsolicited investment proposals or prompts to log into your crypto wallet and similar communications are just some of the measures that can help people avoid falling victim to crypto-related cyberattacks and scams. 

To read the full article, head over to:


Guest Post: Microsoft Edge hits nearly 300M users after ChatGPT integration

Posted in Commentary with tags on June 28, 2023 by itnerd

Web browsers serve as our virtual entryway in the vast landscape of the digital world, allowing us to explore the internet easily.

According to the calculations by the Atlas VPN team, the Microsoft Edge browser is closing in on a total of 300 million users. The browser’s number of users grew by 50 million months after ChatGPT was implemented. Despite that, Google Chrome and Safari continue to dominate the browser market share.

Google Chrome has nearly 3.4 billion users and stands firmly as the most popular browser. Chrome’s success is due to its strong features, user-friendly interface, and seamless integration with Google services.

Apple’s Safari browser reached over 1 billion users last year and this year continued to grow to 1.1 billion users. Since April 2022, the Opera browser has grown its user number by 40%, from 109 million to 152 million users.

Firefox’s browser user number stands at about 150 million. Samsung Internet browser has a user base of nearly 135 million people.

​​Cybersecurity writer at Atlas VPN, Vilius Kardelis, shares his thoughts on browser market share:

“The growth of Microsoft Edge has sparked a wave of innovation among its competitors. A notable example is Google’s integration of its Bard AI into Chrome, a clear response to Edge’s success. Such a competitive environment promises a bright future for web browsing.”

To read the full article, head over to: