One of the world’s leading online security and privacy companies has vowed to step up its campaign to combat cybercrime in the Middle East.
“The Middle East needs to toughen up when it comes to protecting its smart devices, and there has to be a much greater awareness of the consequences, whether it is identity theft or a full-on cyber-attack across an entire company’s network,” said James Ryan, Chief Privacy Officer, AnchorFree, the makers of Hotspot Shield, the world’s most popular VPN app.
“We‘re are committed to safeguarding online lives in the Middle East and, while we are seeing encouraging progress in many respects, there is much work that remains to be done.”
The call to action follows the recent release of Norton’s 2013 cybercrime report, which shows that the average cost per cybercrime victim has risen by 50% over the last twelve months. The wide-ranging study also found that despite 63% of those surveyed owning smartphones and 30% owning tablets, 48%, did not take basic precautions such as using passwords, having security software or backing up files on their mobile device.
In addition, and against the backdrop of soaring BYOD adoption, a full 49% claimed they used their personal devices for work – potentially putting entire organisations at risk of attack. More than half of all employers will require employees to bring their own devices to work by 2017, according to IT research company Gartner, Inc.
But while the risks are many and varied, Ryan believes that solutions such as Hotspot Shield can have an immense protective impact.
“Hotspot Shield will help identify malware sites and provide a secure, encrypted connection to the Internet for desktop or mobile devices, protecting your browsing from hackers and snoops. This is particularly important when using unknown networks or public Wi-Fi,” he said.
The latter is especially relevant in the UAE where, according to the Norton report, 73% use public or unsecured WiFi, with 70% also using these connections to access social networks. This type and magnitude of unsecure usage has contributed to 50% of smartphone users in the UAE experiencing mobile cybercrime in the past 12 months.
Nevertheless, Ryan is encouraged by the region’s tech-savvy users’ growing determination to protect their online movements.
Reflecting the growth in mobile devices for work and personal use, there has been a 200% growth in installations of Hotspot Shield on mobile devices in the region since August 2012.
Hotspot Shield has been one of the most popular and effective VPNs on smartphones since AnchorFree expanded Hotspot Shield from desktop computers to mobile devices. The solution is now available for Apple iOS mobile devices including the iPhone, iPad, and iPod in November, as well as Google Android mobile devices.
In the MENA region, there have been 4 million total installations on Apple iOS and Google Android devices, according to AnchorFree. Every month, there are more than 1.5 million total downloads worldwide of Hotspot Shield on Apple iOS and Android mobile devices, AnchorFree added.
Hotspot Shield customers have benefitted not only from the mobile app’s security and privacy, but also from its ability to reduce bandwidth by up to 50%, helping smartphone users save money on their mobile data plans.
Especially popular for Apple iOS devices, Hotspot Shield is among the top Utilities apps in the Apple App Store, and is the top security app on the iPhone and iPad.
Earlier this year, AnchorFree was hailed as America’s sixth most promising company and named to Inc. Magazine’s prestigious Top 5000 fastest growing companies. and Gorodyansky was identified as one of the country’s most promising CEOs. Hotspot Shield was also named by popular download site Softonic as “one of the best apps” at Mobile World Congress 2013.