Archive for Atlas VPN

Guest Post: Over 100 Million Malware Infections Detected On Windows In 2020 Says Atlas VPN

Posted in Commentary with tags on March 9, 2021 by itnerd

Malware, a malicious software designed to disrupt, damage, or gain unauthorized access to a computer system, is one of the most common cyber threats computer users face today. While malware can affect any operating system, Windows users are among the most vulnerable.

According to the data analyzed by the Atlas VPN team, in 2020 alone, devices with Windows operating systems were affected by over 111 million malware infections. 

Out of all of the Windows malware threats detected last year, 83% or nearly 92.3 million were found on consumer devices, while 15% or 16.7 million were discovered on business devices. The remaining 2% of the malware cases were unspecified.

Despite the impressive number of Windows malware detections in 2020, such threats actually dropped by 12% compared to 2019. 

According to Rachel Welch, COO of Atlas VPN, “The decline in Windows malware infections might signify that cybercriminals have found other more effective methods to exploit victims online.”

HackTool is the fastest rising malware threat

In 2020, we saw a fall in malware infections affecting Windows operating systems. However, despite a general decline, certain types of malware thrived last year. 

HackTool, a type of malware used by hackers to gain unauthorized access to a user’s computer, saw the biggest increase in new cases detected on Windows last year when compared to 2019. Infections with HackTool spiked by 150%, from 7.4 million to 18.4 million in a single year. 

Other malware types that saw a surge last year include Rogue (117%) and Spyware (28%), which help criminals track and collect information on the victim.

However, the most common Windows malware threat last year was adware —  software that displays unwanted advertisements on people’s computers. It accounted for 32% or 35.5 million Windows malware cases in 2020, a 22% drop from 45.7 million in 2019.

To read the full article, head over to: https://atlasvpn.com/blog/over-100-million-malware-infections-detected-on-windows-in-2020

Guest Post: Atlas VPN Says UK’s Cybersecurity Firms Hit Over $12 Billion In 2020 Revenue

Posted in Commentary with tags on February 23, 2021 by itnerd

Cybersecurity has never been more important, as the pandemic forced many people to shift towards remote work. Also, most entertainment venues are closed, so people use the web to fill up their free time. This situation is a great opportunity, and cybersecurity companies did not miss the chance to capitalize on it.

Atlas VPN research team found that in the 2020 financial year, online security companies in the UK raked in nearly 8.88 billion GBP which is equivalent to 12.51 billion US dollars, a 7% increase from last year’s 8.3 billion GBP (11.69 billion USD). 

Rachel Welch, COO of Atlas VPN, shares her projections on UK’s cybersecurity firm earnings in 2021:

We project that cybersecurity firm earnings in the United Kingdom in the year 2021 will surge past the 10 billion GBP (14.08 billion USD) mark without much trouble, as the digital threats online are projected to thrive amid home working and improving hacking strategies. 

Therefore, cybersecurity firms will potentially sign a significant amount of new contracts as companies will shift to seek proper digital security solutions for their businesses.” 

Data reveals that nearly three-quarters (74%) of the online security earnings go to large firms, amounting to almost 6.6 billion GBP or 9.3 billion USD in 2020. Large enterprises are those with 250 or more employees. 

Cybersecurity businesses by size

In 2020 1,483 companies provided cybersecurity products and services. Compared to last year’s 1,221 businesses, this is a 21% growth. 

Looking at the broader perspective, the number of digital security companies jumped by 85% from 846 firms in 2017 to 1,483 in 2020.  Let’s delve deeper into the size of registered cybersecurity firms in the UK within the most recent financial year.

In 2020, there were 144 companies with 250 or more employees, representing 10% of the grand total number of businesses.

To read the full report, head over to: https://atlasvpn.com/blog/uks-cybersecurity-firms-hit-over-12-billion-in-2020-revenue

Guest Post: 59% Of Canadian Organizations Deployed VPNs To Combat Cyberattacks In 2020 Says Atlas VPN

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

Last year was challenging for organizations on many levels. Due to the global pandemic, many businesses were forced to close, while some shifted to remote work, which opened new opportunities for cybercriminals. This situation pressed organizations to look for new ways to improve their cybersecurity practices. 

According to the data analyzed by the Atlas VPN team, in 2020, Virtual Private Network (VPN) was the most popular cybersecurity tool to combat increased cyber threats among Canadian organizations. In total, 59% of Canadian companies deployed VPNs last year.

The second most commonly deployed cybersecurity layer last year in Canadian organizations was DNS Firewall. Overall, half of the companies introduced DNS Firewall as one of the security measures. Password manager occupied the third spot in the list  and was utilized by 46% of organizations.

Compared to 2019, fewer organizations took up these cybersecurity measures in 2020. However, last year Canadian organizations upgraded their cybersecurity practices by adding a more comprehensive range of security layers, such as VPN and single sign-on authentication. 

8 in 10 organizations suffered a cyberattack last year

Last year, the majority of Canadian organizations had to face cyberattacks. Overall, 80% of organizations handled at least one online assault in 2020. In comparison, 71% of Canadian companies experienced at least one cyberattack in 2019.

In 2020, cybercriminals frequently took advantage of the global pandemic to launch attacks. Over one quarter (28%) of Canadian organizations last year were targeted byCOVID-19 themed assaults.

Some Canadian organizations were targeted by cybercriminals more often than others. Over a fifth (21%) of organizations endured more than 10 attacks in 2020. The public sector received a bigger share of the attacks.

Despite the increase in cyberattacks, only around one-third of IT security professionals in Canadian organizations said they anticipated growth in human resources dedicated to cybersecurity.

Rachel Welch, COO of Atlas VPN, shares her thoughts on the lack of cybersecurity resources in organizations:

“It is clear that organizations must act quickly to address the lack of cybersecurity talent. After all, the year 2020 has taught us that we can not foretell what challenges lie ahead. Therefore, companies must always be ready to handle the ever-evolving cyberthreats.” 

To read the full article, head over to: https://atlasvpn.com/blog/59-of-canadian-organizations-deployed-vpns-to-combat-cyberattacks-in-2020

Guest Post: Google Reports A Record Number Of Requests To Disclose User Information In 2020 H1: Atlas VPN

Posted in Commentary with tags on February 16, 2021 by itnerd

For civil, administrative, criminal, and national security purposes, a range of laws enables government agencies worldwide to request user information from Google. 

Recent findings by Atlas VPN reveal that these requests have been steadily growing in the past five years. In the first half of 2020, Google reported a record number of applications for the disclosure of user information. 

The number of requests grew by 17,847, comparing the first half of 2020 to the second half of 2019, representing a 21% increase. Moreover, the number of internet users affected by these requests jumped from 175,712 in 2019 H2 to 235,449 in 2020 H1, amounting to a 34% surge. 

Figures dating back to 2016 reveal that in less than five years, the number of requests for internaut information shot up 2.31 times. 

Google approves 76% of requests

Not only is the number of requests growing, but Google continues to approve a higher percentage of these requests continuously since the second half of 2016. 

In the “Requests for user information FAQs” Google states that they always try to negotiate with the agencies to provide as little information as possible. However, the truth is that users do not know how hard the tech giant fights to protect this sensitive data. 

The search engine monopoly approved 76% of requests for the disclosure of their user information in the first half of 2020. 

Rachel Welch, COO of Atlas VPN, shares her thoughts on the state of privacy in the year 2021:

“Worldwide, almost all governments are increasing their attempts to collect and access data by tracking private citizens, seeking permission to use corporate-collected data, or collecting foreign government information.

With the increase of internet usage due to the pandemic, the current state of users privacy is tremendously troubling.

To read the full article, head over to: https://atlasvpn.com/blog/google-reports-a-record-number-of-requests-to-disclose-user-information-in-2020-h1

Guest Post: ATM Hacks Surged 269% In Europe In 2020 H1, Recent Findings From Atlas VPN Reveal

Posted in Commentary with tags on February 9, 2021 by itnerd

Criminals have been targeting automated teller machines (ATMs) for as long as they have been available to the public. Many already know about scams where fraudsters hook up a small device to the ATM to steal credit card information, usually referred to as card skimming. 

However, recent findings by Atlas VPN reveal that cybercriminals started to hack into the ATMs using malware and logical attacks. A logical or malware attack is a type of cyber attack where threat actors alter the ATM software to access the cash dispenser.

When hackers gain access to the dispenser, they can collect ATM users’ credit card details to prepare fake credit and debit cards. Also, hackers can collect the cash available in the ATM, depending on what part of the software the criminals could access.

The research is based on European Association for Secure Transactions (EAST) data covering the first six months of 2020. 

ATM malware and logical attacks against ATMs went up from 35 to 129 in the first half of 2020, which represents a 269% increase from last year. Losses caused by malware and logical attacks rocketed from less than €1,000 in 2019 H1 to just over €1 million in 2020 H1.

Physical attacks cause most losses

Physical ATM attacks are much more common and cause bigger financial losses. There are various types of physical attacks. One of the most common types of physical attacks is ram raids, rip out, explosive attacks, or burglary. 

ATM-related physical attacks were down from 2,376 to 1,829, amounting to a 23% decline.

However, even though the number of attacks declined in 2020 H1, losses due to physical attacks were €12.6 million, an 11% increase from the €11.4 million in 2019 H1.

The bigger part of the damages was driven by an increase in losses due to explosive and gas attacks, which went up from €5.1 million to €7.6 million, representing a 49% jump in a year. The number of explosive attacks increased only slightly, from 503 incidents in 2019 H1 to 505 attacks in 2020 H1.

To read the full article, head over to: https://atlasvpn.com/blog/atm-hacks-surged-269-in-europe-in-2020-h1-recent-findings-reveal

Guest Post: Atlas VPN Says Over 300 Million Individuals Affected By US data Leaks In 2020

Posted in Commentary with tags on February 3, 2021 by itnerd

The year 2020 was full of challenges. The global pandemic threatened our health and digital safety as cybercriminals took advantage of the worldwide uncertainty for a quick gain.

According to the data analyzed by the Atlas VPN team, over 300 million individuals were affected in 1,108 US data breach and exposure incidents in 2020.

While last year’s data breach and exposure numbers are impressive, the number of such events actually went down by nearly a fifth (19%) from 1,362 in 2019 to 1,108 in 2020. The number of affected individuals also dropped by 66%, from over 887 million in 2019 to more than 300 million in 2020. 

Rachel Welch, COO of Atlas VPN, shares her thoughts on the decline in data breaches and exposures in 2020:

“While data breaches and exposures declined in 2020, other research sources reveal that the number of actual data records leaked reached record-highs last year. Cyberattacks are growing more sophisticated as cybercriminals find new and more effective ways to exploit organizations and consumers.”

Cyberattacks were the primary reasons behind such data infringements. They made up the majority — 79% of all the root causes and hit close to 170 million individuals. Phishing, including smishing and business email compromise, was by far the most common cyberattack method behind 44% of such breaches.

Other reasons behind data breaches and leaks last year included human and system errors (14%), as well as physical attacks (7%).

Name and Social Security Number was most commonly leaked data

While data breach and exposure incidents declined in 2020, they still caused tremendous damage, as cybercriminals managed to get a hold of a wide array of sensitive personal information.

The most commonly leaked personally identifiable information type was a name. It was involved in 973 or 88% of last year’s US data infringements.

Up next is the Social Security Number (SSN). There were 556 data breaches and exposure incidents where full SSN was revealed or stolen. Such events made up nearly half of all breaches and data exposures in 2020.

To read the full report, head over to: https://atlasvpn.com/blog/over-300-million-individuals-affected-by-the-us-data-leaks-in-2020

Guest Post: Atlas VPN Says That Australians Lost A Record $176 Million From 216 Thousand Scams In 2020

Posted in Commentary with tags on February 2, 2021 by itnerd

Scam damages in Australia have been steadily growing in the last 4 years. However, last year’s losses surged by more than two times. The reason being, millions of people shifted towards remote work and, in turn, created many new attack vectors for cybercriminals. 

According to data presented by the Atlas VPN research team, Australians have lost over $176 (AUD) million to scams in 2020. In total, Aussies reported more than 216 thousand fraud cases, with 10.7% of the reports including financial losses.

Rachel Welch, COO of Atlas VPN, shares her insights on the record year for scams in Australia:

“In general, the year 2020 was a rollercoaster ride. However, cybercriminals used this commotion as an opportunity to find new ways to scam panicking citizens.”

The year 2020 was a record year in terms of monetary losses and the number of scams in Australia. Aussies lost $97 million more in 2020 compared to 2019, representing a 123% increase. 

Australia’s citizens aged 65 and over lost most to scams, at $37.65 million, constituting over 21% of the total losses in 2020. Next up are 45 to 54-year-olds, who sustained $32.3 million in monetary losses last year. Third place goes to citizens ages 55 to 64, and they lost a total of $28.38 million to fraudsters. 

On a similar note, nearly half of the scams reported (103 thousand) were carried out via phone. 

Investment scams most damaging

Fraudsters use various scam methods to trick people into giving away their hard-earned money. Last year, investment scams swindled most money out of unsuspecting victims, at more than $66.44 million. 

Scammers took the opportunity presented by the COVID-19 pandemic to lure victims into investment scams. There are various types of investment fraud. The most common examples are Ponzi schemes, fake CD scams, bogus stock promotions, and community-based financial scams.

To read the full article, head over to: https://atlasvpn.com/blog/australians-lost-a-record-176-million-from-216-thousand-scams-in-2020

Guest Post: 152 Election Apps Found To Be Dangerous, Recent Findings From Atlas VPN Reveal

Posted in Commentary with tags on February 1, 2021 by itnerd

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced many people to turn to the internet for information about the elections. Moreover, a large part of the population voted digitally. This shift created countless new attack vectors for cybercriminals. 

According to data presented by Atlas VPN, over 152 US election applications have infringement issues and 16 mobile apps have malicious code within them

In total, the research found 186 US election apps, out of which 152 were deemed fraudulent or malicious. Meaning, these apps claim to be authorized by the government or by the State, but in reality, they are not.

Rachel Welch, COO of Atlas VPN, explains why cybercriminals might choose app stores outside of the US to publish malicious applications:

“Application stores are spread all around the world and are subject to different rules and regulations. For these reasons, it is easier for scammers to release an unofficial service in one country than in another.

Not surprisingly, most election applications originate from within the US. The good news is that it is easier to submit a complaint and take down these malicious services if they are in the US. On the other hand, if the application is in a foreign state, it might prove difficult to take it down in a timely manner or at all. 

For example, 17 applications are placed in stores that are registered in Hong Kong. Similarly, 14 infringing mobile election services are available in China’s app stores or websites.

Also, 10 applications are distributed from Panama — a country with loose digital privacy regulations. 

Who’s the most vulnerable target? 

Which consumers should watch out for these threats the most? Firstly, the investigation reveals that most infringing applications are aimed at Android users, comprising 95.6% of the total dangerous apps detected.

What is more, applications are distributed throughout various app stores and websites. These distributors can be grouped into four main categories — official, secondary, affiliate, and hybrid stores. 

Official stores are authorized, large-scale suppliers. The main ones are Google Play Store, Apple App Store, and Samsung Galaxy Apps Store. 

Naturally, these stores have the best security practices. Research data uncovers the fact that only 1.2% of dangerous election applications are from official stores.

To find out the explanation and dangers of infringing applications, head over to: https://atlasvpn.com/blog/over-150-us-election-related-mobile-apps-found-to-be-dangerous-or-malicious

Guest Post: Generation Z Is Most Concerned About Sharing Their Location Data With The Government Says Atlas VPN

Posted in Commentary with tags on January 28, 2021 by itnerd

It is no secret that tech companies have shared their user information with governments in the past. This makes many Americans feel uncomfortable with how their data is handled. 

According to the data presented by the Atlas VPN team, 50% of the adults born in Generation Z feel very uncomfortable sharing their location data, including where they had traveled, with the government. Along with the Baby Boomer generation, of whom 54% are highly insecure about sharing their whereabouts, they are the most concerned about personal data privacy. 

Nevertheless, 15% of adults born in Gen Z and 17% of Baby Boomers still feel confident about the government tracking their location, with 6% in each generation stating they feel very secure with the situation. 

Millennials (1981-1996) and Generation X (1965-1980) are a little more positive about their location data being known to the government. Overall, 13% of Millenials are very confident with sharing their whereabouts, while 40% are strongly against it. In the meantime, 14% of adults born in Generation X are highly comfortable sharing their location data, and 46% of Gen Xers feel the opposite.

However, all adult groups are less against their location data being shared with the government if it is for the purpose of Coronavirus tracking.

Rachel Welch, COO of Atlas VPN, shares her insights on why various generations view privacy differently:

“Each generation is distinct in its own way. After all, every one of them grew up under different historical, economic, and cultural circumstances that shape their outlook of the world. The latter also impacts how protective they are of their personal data.”

Non-college graduates least trust the government with their data

Most people feel uneasy about their personal data, such as their location, being shared with the government. Nevertheless, it seems that higher education levels in adults lead to higher trust in the government with their data.

Overall, 74% of American adults that had not completed a college education feel uncomfortable with the government tracking their whereabouts. While 51% of such adults said they are very insecure with the situation, 23% are somewhat uncomfortable. 

Other adult groups in the US feel slightly less pessimistic about the tech companies sharing their location data with the government. In total, 45% of adults with Bachelor’s degrees feel very unsafe with the government having their location data, while the number drops to 32% in adults with Postgraduate education.

To read the full article, head over to: https://atlasvpn.com/blog/generation-z-is-one-of-the-most-concerned-about-sharing-their-location-data-with-the-government

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: https://atlasvpn.com/blog/global-vpn-downloads-surge-to-277-million-in-2020-arab-countries-lead