In honor of International VPN Day, which took place on August 19, NordVPN’s research team decided to raise awareness by sharing the most worrying cybersecurity facts they’ve learned over the last year.

“Our research shows that people still have a lot to learn when it comes to cybersecurity, and the dangers are real,” said Daniel Markuson, a cybersecurity expert at NordVPN. “Users’ digital habits are far from perfect. Meanwhile, hackers constantly work on new techniques, exploiting poor online practices. The good news is that interest in cybersecurity is growing every year as people are more worried about the issues they face on the internet.”

Below, Markuson lists the main lessons NordVPN’s research team has learned about the digital world since last International VPN Day.

  1. Nine in 10 people know at least one person who had their social media account hacked.
    Ten years ago, that might have been less of an issue, but, today, social media accounts are used for logging into multiple other services (including email accounts, payment platforms, and more) and have become an appealing target for hackers all around the world. 
  2. Payment card details cost $10 on average on the dark web.
    NordVPN has analyzed a database of 4 million stolen payment card details that were found for sale on the dark web. According to the findings, the average cost for information relating to one card was $10. 
  3. Criminals have earned $17.3 million on a single dark web market.
    It’s not just credit and debit card details that can be sold online. Another study by NordVPN revealed that hackers can make millions peddling all kinds of stolen data — from passwords to social security numbers. Other criminals can then use that information for identity theft, phishing attacks, and other forms of fraud. 
  4. Of the respondents, 85% worry they will be hacked while traveling.
    This is a  legitimate concern. Using hotel Wi-Fi and hotspots on public transport can expose data to hackers, which is why using a VPN on holiday is more important than ever.
  5. More than half (63%) of people are worried cybercriminals track them.
    In another report by NordVPN, 63% of those surveyed stated that they feared being tracked by cybercriminals. That’s a good sign because this data shows that people understand that the internet is associated with risks. That understanding could lead many to take precautions and protect their data online.
  6. While most respondents know how to remove their data from the internet, 40% do not.
    In  NordVPN’s recent global survey, more than 40% of respondents in all countries surveyed said they didn’t know how to remove their data from the internet. Less than 20% were confident they could limit their online exposure.
    People can remove data from the internet or stop it getting there in the first place in various ways — from direct data removal requests to VPN use. Yet as awareness of the problem grows, understanding of these solutions is not yet widespread.
  7. Privacy issues related to the metaverse are a concern for 87% of respondents.
    What does the future hold in this area? Well, it’s a mixed bag. Growing awareness is good, but it doesn’t guarantee improvements. According to another NordVPN survey, even though 87% of respondents are worried about privacy issues related to the metaverse, 74% are still willing to use it when possible.
  8. Bad online habits help hackers.
    The company’s National Privacy Test showed that bad habits and human error are huge facilitators of risky data exposure. Using weak passwords, oversharing on social media, or clicking links without making sure they’re authentic — a few moments of carelessness is all a hacker might need to slip through our defenses.
  9. People spend a third of their lives online.
    NordVPN’s Lifetime Online study revealed that, on average, most people spend a third of their   lives online. The most popular activities online include using social media, streaming TV shows, and listening to music. A staggering 65% of respondents use their phone while on the toilet.
    Sixty-five percent of people can’t even go to the bathroom without their smartphones, according to NordVPN’s research. In all the countries surveyed, phone use on the toilet was the most common among millennials (ages 26-41). Gen Z (ages 18-25) takes second place.

“Our social lives, banking, work, and medical history are all growing increasingly integrated with digital platforms, and that means hackers have more targets than ever before,” sad Markuson. “Implementing good daily habits online is essential if we’re going to continue to live our lives online. Use International VPN Day as a starting point to a safer internet —update your passwords, run an antivirus scan, or download a VPN. Every little thing counts.”