NordVPN is encouraging people to use a Virtual Private Network (VPN) service to make sure that their online activity remains private. The company is itself a VPN provider, and noted that a VPN encrypts traffic to mask network activity from outsiders.
To emphasize the point, the company also released the results of a survey that highlights what kind of information that could be exposed in a potential breach. The survey was conducted between March 29 and April 3, and reflects the feedback of UK internet users over the age of 18. It revealed that the country’s residents are most afraid about the leak of their financial records, with 77 expressing concern about such an event. That result is not all that surprising, since a financial disclosure could lead to fraud and considerable financial losses.
However, many respondents were quite worried about breaches that would be more personal in nature. Thirty-six percent were worried about the loss of personal photos, while 31 percent were worried about files and links they had sent. Twenty-eight percent and 27 percent, respectively, were similarly concerned about online conversations and browser history.
According to NordVPN, the consequences of such a privacy violation can be just as severe as those associated with a financial breach. Criminals can use personal information to stalk their victims, or publish manipulated photos to harm someone’s reputation. They can also use it to engage in various forms of identity theft.
“Personal data encompasses details about a person’s religious beliefs, political opinions, genetic or health data, racial or ethnic origin, biometric data, etc.,” said NordVPN digital privacy expert Daniel Markuson. “The leakage of such info might cause someone financial or reputational damage or be used for malicious purposes if it falls into the wrong hands.”
To guard against such outcomes, NordVPN stressed the importance of strong passwords, and advised consumers to take advantage of the privacy settings on their social media accounts. It also stressed that people should not post personal information like address and phone number on any public-facing platforms.
NordVPN has previously observed that COVID-19 (and the new remote work environment) coincided with a sharp increase in the volume of cyberattacks. The company’s warnings about public Wi-Fi echo those of NuData, which has similarly suggested that businesses should route all of their traffic through a trusted VPN.