Archive for Atlas VPN

Guest Post: Atlas VPN Says Global VPN Downloads Surge To 277 Million In 2020, Arab Countries Lead

Posted in Commentary with tags on January 25, 2021 by itnerd

According to data based on the VPN Adoption Index by Atlas VPN, Virtual Private Network (VPN) downloads reached 277 million in 2020 worldwide.

A Virtual Private Network hides the user’s real IP address and encrypts his browsing traffic. In turn, these changes prevent nosy 3-rd parties such as hackers, ISP (Internet Service Provider), or even the government from tracking the user’s online activities.

Interestingly, the top 4 VPN adopters are Arab countries, which, to be exact, are: The United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Oman, and Saudi Arabia. Here, on average, VPNs penetrate 44.75% of the market. In other words, 4 out of 10 citizens in these countries downloaded a Virtual Private Network application in 2020.

Data reveals the fact that the VPN adoption rate correlates with how strict the internet censorship and other online restrictions are in that country. Most of these countries ban any content that is against Islam values or criticizes the government. 

COVID-19 impact on VPN usage 

Strict internet restrictions are not the only driving force behind the high VPN adoption rate last year. 

From February 2020, people started staying at home due to the closure of offices, public venues and the cancellation of public gatherings caused by the pandemic. People began using the internet more often, with many of them choosing to watch TV shows and movies.

But certain streaming services, such as Netflix, BBC, and Amazon Prime, apply geo-restrictions for viewing the content. However, a VPN provides a way to bypass those blockages.

Moreover, in many companies, the majority of employees started working from home. In turn, to protect the company’s data from hackers, employers required their workers to use VPNs.

Rachel Welch, COO of Atlas VPN, shares her insights on how the VPN market shifted in 2020:

The year 2020 will be remembered as a year when VPNs became mainstream since millions of people shifted to remote work amidst the coronavirus pandemicAmong other things, to access a company’s network, most people have to use VPN to protect their as well as their employers’ data.” 

To read the full article that analyzes the top 10 VPN adopters as well as the reasoning behind it, head over to:

Guest Post: Ransomware Accounts For 81% Of All Financially Motivated Cyberattacks In 2020 Says Atlas VPN

Posted in Commentary with tags on January 21, 2021 by itnerd

Ransomware is a type of malicious malware used by cybercriminals to encrypt sensitive information that can be regained if a ransom is paid. Last year’s data reveals that this type of attack is one of the cybercriminals’ favorite methods.

The Atlas VPN team found that ransomware made up a whopping 81% of all financially motivated cyberattacks in 2020. The remaining 19% include point-of-sale intrusions, e-commerce attacks, business email compromise, and cryptocurrency mining.

As ransomware technology has developed over the last thirty years since its creation in 1989, its threat levels have grown too. In 2020, ransomware attacks caused greater financial damage per breach than average malicious attacks.

An average malicious attack cost victims $4.27 million per assault. In the meantime, ransomware attacks cost 4% more — $4.44 million per breach.

The top 5 biggest ransomware attack payouts of 2020

The year 2020 saw a fair share of ransomware attacks that affected companies and organizations worldwide. 

One of the most significant ransomware attacks in 2020 was the Garmin breach. Garmin, an American multinational technology company, is believed to have paid $10 million to its hackers. Garmin was targeted by WastedLocker, ransomware credited to a Russia-based cybercriminal group called Evil Corp.

The next biggest ransom payout to cybercriminals in 2020 belongs to a business travel management company CWT Global. Cybercriminals behind the attack used Ragnar Locker and collected a payment of $4.5 million.

Travelex, a British foreign exchange firm, rounds out the top three companies in this list. The Sodinokibi gang, also known as REvil, is said to be responsible for the attack. Travelex paid the criminal group $2.3 million.

Other organizations that paid a significant ransom to cybercriminals last year include the University of California San Francisco ($1.14 million), as well as Communications and Power Industries ($0.5 million).

Rachel Welch, COO of Atlas VPN, shares her thoughts on ransomware attack trends:

It is hard to predict whether this year’s ransomware attack levels will surpass the ones of 2020. However, as global companies continue to fall into the traps of ransomware attacks, it is safe to say they are not going anywhere.

To read the full article, head over to:

Guest Post: 55% Of Americans Are More Worried About Getting Hacked Than Being Murdered Says Atlas VPN

Posted in Commentary with tags on January 18, 2021 by itnerd

According to an Atlas VPN investigation, US citizens worry much more about getting hacked than being murdered. 

As many as 72% of respondents frequently or occasionally lose sleep over having their personal, credit card, or financial information stolen by hackers.

The second most agonizing crime that Americans tend to dwell on is being a victim of identity theft, at 66%. Identity theft is a type of cybercrime where criminals steal the victims’ personal information and commit fraud in the victim’s name.

Rachel Welch, COO of Atlas VPN, shares her thoughts on why consumers are so worried about cybercrime:

With headlines around the world being dominated by government security breaches, large enterprise data leaks, and similar cybersecurity issues, the concerns seem to be justified.

Fraudsters can withdraw money, take out loans, empty checking accounts, and commit many other crimes by stealing a person’s identity. The top two spots reveal that cybercrime causes the lion’s share of worries for US citizens.

Next up, data sheds light on how individuals are also troubled by thoughts about losing their physical goods. Over 35% of those surveyed reported that they often dwell on their home being burglarized when they are not there (35%) and having their car stolen or broken into (34%).

Finally, 24% of Americans are anxious that they can get mugged, while 17% of individuals report that they worry about getting murdered.

To read the full article, head over to:

Guest Post: Blockchain Hackers Stole $3.8 Billion In 122 Attacks In 2020 Says Atlas VPN

Posted in Commentary with tags on January 12, 2021 by itnerd

The Atlas VPN team found that blockchain hackers stole nearly $3.78 billion in 122 attacks throughout 2020. Blockchain-linked attacks that happened last year alone account for almost a third (33%) of all time hacks aimed at blockchain projects.

Ethereum (ETH) DApps were the most frequently breached blockchain target. In 2020 alone, there were 47 successful attacks aimed at ETH DApps, which cost victims around $436.36 million or $9.28 million per hack. 

Cryptocurrency exchanges were also highly targeted last year. In 2020, there were 28 cryptocurrency exchange breaches, which together amounted to $300.15 million in losses or approximately $10.72 million per hack.

Blockchain wallets occupy the third spot in the list. Last year, hackers launched 27 successful attacks aimed at crypto wallets, netting $3.03 billion or around $112.12 million per hack. The nature of blockchain wallets makes them the most profitable target to cybercriminals.

Blockchain-linked hacks drop for the first time in 5 years

In 2020, blockchain-related hacks dropped for the first time in the last five years. The year 2019 saw 133 coordinated attacks targeting various blockchain platforms, apps, and tokens. In 2020, the number decreased by 8% to 122. While the drop is not very significant, it still indicates an overall decline in blockchain-related hacks.

When it comes to this year, in January, two successful attacks, as well as one blackmail case involving cryptocurrency, have already been reported. Nevertheless, the numbers are not near the ones recorded in the record-breaking year of 2019, when 31 attack took place in January alone. 

Rachel Welch, COO of Atlas VPN, shares her insights for the year ahead:

“It is hard to say what the future holds for the blockchain in terms of security. However, the blockchain-related breaches may continue to decline in 2021.”

To read the full article, head over to:

Guest Post: App Development Security Is The Most Wanted Cybersecurity Skill In 2021 Says Atlas VPN

Posted in Commentary with tags on January 6, 2021 by itnerd

The year 2020 revealed that businesses still struggle when it comes to cybersecurity. Not only are organizations dealing with cybersecurity workforce shortage, which is estimated to be at 3.12 million, but existing security specialists have to constantly reinvent their skills to keep up with the ever-evolving cyber threat landscape.

According to the data presented by the Atlas VPN team, the fastest-growing cybersecurity skill in 2021 is Application Development Security. The demand for this competence is determined to rise by 164% in five years.

Last year, 29,635 job vacancies required knowledge in Application Development Security, meaning that we can expect 48,601 new openings for specialists with this expertise over the next five years. As the world is turning more mobile, the necessity for Application Development Security know-how is increasing as well.

The second most rapidly growing skill is Cloud Security. In 2020, the cybersecurity job market had 19,477 job openings for Cloud Security experts, while the need for such specialists is projected to grow by 115% in five years. 

Risk Management rounds out the top three quickest-growing cybersecurity competencies. Last year, there were 57,967 job vacancies for professionals skilled in Risk Management. According to the estimates, their demand will increase by 60% in five year’s time. 

Cloud Security skill pays the most

The numbers suggest that, in general, most rapidly growing cybersecurity competencies are the most profitable. 

Rachel Welch, COO of Atlas VPN, explains why specialist are rewarded differently for specific skills:

“It is no secret that certain skills pay more because they are more valuable to employers  due to the high demand and low supply of talent.”

The average salary premium for professionals knowledgeable in Application Development Security is $12,266. In the meantime, workers with Cloud Security know-how receive an average bonus of $15,025 — the most of all the top-growing cybersecurity skills. Moreover, those experienced with Risk Management can expect an average salary premium of $13,379.

To read the full report, head over to:

Guest Post: Atlas VPN Says That 1 in 5 Employees Fall For Phishing Emails Even After Security Training

Posted in Commentary with tags on December 17, 2020 by itnerd

The year 2020 was challenging for cybersecurity on many levels. The global pandemic brought a wave of cyberattacks exploiting the mayhem, while remote work made employees more vulnerable to such attacks.

In particular, phishing attacks hit record levels, with Google reporting over 2 million phishing sites in 2020 alone. However, even more alarming is that current cybersecurity measures employed by organizations worldwide are inadequate to protect against such threats.

According to the data presented by the Atlas VPN team, one-fifth (19.8%) of employees fell for phishing emails even if they have gone through security awareness training. 

Rachel Welch, COO of Atlas VPN, shares her thoughts on the situation:

“We are in an age where cyberattacks are evolving faster than ever before. However, the data shows that organizations are not doing enough to educate their employees on cybersecurity threats.

Organizations have to realize that just as the cyberthreat landscape is shifting, so should their response to cyberthreats. Otherwise, the organization is left vulnerable to cyberattacks, which have devastating and long-lasting consequences to both the organization itself and its clients.”

Out of the employees who did click on phishing email links, 67.5% also entered their credentials, such as password, on the phishing webpage. It means that overall, 13.4% of employees provided their credentials to phishers. 

The Public Sector is the most vulnerable to phishing attacks

While no sector is immune to phishing attacks, some industries were better educated on recognizing such assaults than the others.

Five industries had above average phishing email click rates, with the public sector being at the top of the list.  A total of 28.4% of employees working in the public sector clicked on a phishing link in an email.

Next up is the Transport industry. Nearly a quarter (24.7%) of employees in the sector fell for phishing emails. 

To read the full report, head over to:

Guest Post: Atlas VPN Highlights That The Global Cybersecurity Industry Faces A Workforce Gap Of 3.12 Million

Posted in Commentary with tags on December 15, 2020 by itnerd

More than half of the world’s population is connected to the internet. Countless new companies pop up every day that use the power of the web to sell their goods and services. 

In response, cybercrime is also at an all-time high, bringing the need for cybersecurity professionals. Unfortunately, the supply of skilled workers did not keep up with the demand.

The Atlas VPN team found that the global cybersecurity workforce gap hit 3.12 million in 2020.

Rachel Welch, COO of Atlas VPN, shares her thoughts on the gap in the cybersecurity workforce:

“The data reveals that it is necessary to incentivize people to take up cybersecurity as their career. Without sufficient security coverage, organizations run the risk of falling victim to cybercrime.”

The number of vacancies in internet security varies widely by region. in internet security varies widely by region. Over 2.04 million job offers are available in the Asia-Pacific region, representing 66% of the total workforce shortage.

The biggest shortage is in the US

Let’s dissect the problem in more detail by analyzing which countries struggle most with information security vacancies. 

Even though the biggest workforce gap is in the Asia-Pacific region, most job vacancies are in none other than the US, with more than 359,000 jobs available. Not only that, but the US employs most cybersecurity professionals in this list, at 879,157. 

On the other side of the Rio Grande river, there is a need for 196,594 internet security professionals. Mexico also employs a significant number of online security experts, having 421,750 workers.

To read the full report, head over to:

Guest Post: Atlas VPN Says That The Number Of Leaked Files Surged To A Record 36 Billion In 2020

Posted in Commentary with tags on December 14, 2020 by itnerd

With a global pandemic, devastating wildfires, racial tension, and political divide, it is not surprising that 2020 was named the most challenging year in the past decades. The year has been grim for data privacy as well, with leaked personal data records reaching numbers the world has never seen before.

An Atlas VPN analysis based on Risk Based Security data reveals that exposed data hit a record 36.1 billion in the first three quarters of 2020. The number of data records leaked this year is more than two times higher than in the entire year of 2019 and make up more than half (51%) of all exposed data in the past five years.

The first three quarters of 2020 saw a 332% increase in leaked data records compared to the same period last year when 8.35 billion records were exposed. Looking at the historical data, leaked data records surged by a whopping 1,453% from 2.33 billion through Q3 in 2016 to 36.1 billion in 2020.

Leaked data records are on the rise, while data breaches are declining

A record-high number of data leaked this year is a result of 2,953 publicly reported data breaches. However, unlike leaked data records, data breaches dropped by 51% compared to the same period last year when 6,021 violations were reported.

Rachel Welch, COO of Atlas VPN, shares her thoughts on the topic:

“Data breaches are growing in severity, with fewer breaches exposing more records than ever before. Businesses should take note of this and make cybersecurity one of their top priorities next year. It is always better to be safe than sorry, especially when it comes to private data, as one unfortunate event can cost a company its reputation. “

The most commonly exposed data types are names (45%), emails (36%), and passwords (29%) — all the key information needed for accessing someone’s account.

The healthcare sector continues to suffer the most 

While no economic sector is guarded against cyber breaches, some sectors suffered more than the others. 

The healthcare sector endured the most data breaches out of all economic sectors in the first three quarters of 2019 and 2020. Through Q3, 2019, the healthcare sector had 343 breaches, while in 2020, it faced 341 breaches, which account for 12% of breaches this year.

To read the full article, head over to:

Guest Post: Atlas VPN Highlights That 65% Of Businesses Faced One Or More Insider Attacks In The Last Year

Posted in Commentary with tags on December 9, 2020 by itnerd

Most cybersecurity landscape data is focused on outsider attacks; however, recent findings reveal that insider threats are becoming more common. Attacks originating from within the company are much more elusive since standard security practices do not work.  

According to data analyzed by Atlas VPN, 65% of organizations suffered from one or more insider attacks in the last 12 months.

Insider threats come from employees or other internal users, such as contractors, that have access to the company’s internal databases. There are two types of malicious insiders — those with harmful intent and those who are simply negligent. 

Rachel Welch, COO of Atlas VPN, explains why insider threats are much more difficult to defend against:

“Outside hackers have to find ways to break through firewalls and other security measures to get into the company’s databases. On the other hand, many internal users already have access to those databases, so the same safety steps are not applicable.”

Insider Attacks Are Costly

Incidents caused by insider threats are becoming more common, so let’s look at the monetary damages caused by these events. As a side note, if the incident does go public, companies’ public image gets hurt, which, in the long run, can cause even more losses than the immediate incident remediation costs.

Nearly half (49%) of surveyed leaders stated that the remediations after an insider attack cost less than $100 thousand. Another 30% of respondents expressed that monetary damages caused by a single incident are anywhere between $100 thousand and $500 thousand. 

A smaller part of the surveyed experts — 12%, stated that the average cost of remediation after an attack is somewhere between $500 thousand to $1 million. 

To read the full report, head over to:

Guest Post: Average Ransom Payout Jumped 178% In A Year Says Atlas VPN

Posted in Commentary with tags on December 7, 2020 by itnerd

Ransomware is a type of malicious attack where a criminal encrypts, typically, sensitive files, then threatens to publish them unless a demanded ransom is paid. These attacks reached record-highs in 2020 as employees shifted to remote work, in turn creating more attack vectors for hackers. 

An Atlas VPN analysis found that average ransom payouts increased by 178% in Q3 2020 compared to Q4 2019. 

Rachel Welch, COO of Atlas VPN, shares her thoughts on the increase in ransomware payouts:

“The increase in average ransomware payout shows that hackers are successful in bigger-scale attacks or intrude into databases that contain extremely sensitive data, such as credit card details.”

Cybercriminals expect larger payouts when they target bigger companies, steal more data, or the information stolen is extremely sensitive. For example, instead of stealing user email addresses, hackers now target financial details, personal information like social security numbers (SSNs), and police reports. 

In the 4th quarter of 2019, the average ransom payout reached $84 thousand, while in the 3rd quarter of 2020, the number skyrocketed to nearly $234 thousand.

Number of ransomware attacks nearly doubled in 2020

Obviously, the fact that attacks are successful and victims pay out the ransom only encourages cybercriminals to continue these schemes. 

Not only is the average ransom payout increasing rapidly, but the frequency of attacks is reaching record highs. 

There were 78.36 million ransomware attacks detected in Q3 of 2020, while in Q3 2019, the number stood at 40.95 million. This constitutes a 91% jump in ransomware attacks in one year.

To read the full article, head over to: