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Users increasingly turning to VPNs after falling victim to cybercrime

With cybercrimes on the rise, victims are increasingly turning to VPNs in order to protect themselves. A new survey of NordVPN users discovered that as many as 20% of respondents had decided to use a VPN after being a victim of cybercrime. 

Cybercrime can take many forms, but the advantage of using a VPN is that it anonymises your data. That’s why 46% of NordVPN users claim that they turn on a VPN whenever they’re connected to public Wi-Fi, while 46% use it whenever they’re accessing sensitive or private data. Additionally, 33% of users turn on a VPN everytime they connect to the internet. 

VPNs have long been associated with protecting a user’s identity, with the services growing in prominence over recent years due to their popularity within the pirating community. During the crackdown on illegal downloads, many pirates decided to funnel their traffic through VPNs, as many services promised to not log data transmitted through its network. That same protection offered to pirates, can also be enjoyed by those simply wishing to protect sensitive data. 

“This data is not that surprising in 2019 when digital criminals are more active and creative than ever, but it’s still a huge number. No one likes to think about cybercrime until they are affected. But if it does happen, people start looking for ways to make sure it never happens again,” says Ruby Gonzalez, head of communications at NordVPN.

Some of the respondents shared harrowing stories of having their devices, email accounts, and other sensitive information hacked. 

One respondent received an email claiming that a hacker had gained access to his email address and device. The message was backed up by including a victim’s email password. The hacker threatened the victim to publish all the compromising information from the device to his contacts. To avoid that, the victim had to pay $800 worth of Bitcoin to him. “I was not the only person who received an email like this. My password was sold on the dark web. I decided to get a VPN immediately,” explains the victim of online fraud.

Another respondent realised that his credit card statement was much higher than he was expecting. After he called the bank, he discovered a bunch of expensive purchases had been charged on his credit card in South Korea. These purchases cost him several thousand dollars. “My bank reversed the charges and canceled the card. I was surprised that this had happened. It made me re-evaluate my stance regarding online security, and now all purchases are made through NordVPN. I urge others to do the same,” says the affected customer.

One more user told the story of how he found out that his computer had been hacked. He once tried to look up for important files on the computer and realised they were gone. “I was furious, but sure no one had access to my computer because I live alone. I got a file recovery application to check and found out the files were deleted a day before I noticed it. I then knew I had been hacked, and that was why my system was running slow,” says a NordVPN user.

The research was carried out on July 24-29, 2019, with 7695 active NordVPN users randomly selected for the survey. Among them, 37.1% were from the US, 12.2% from the UK, 10% from Canada, and the others were from various countries across the world. 89.9% of the respondents had been using NordVPN for a year or more.

NordVPN is expanding its scope to become an all-around cybersecurity solution. This year, the VPN service provider has announced two new security tools — NordPass and NordLocker — and a new business VPN solution NordVPN Teams.

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