Spike in VPN Interest Due to Coronavirus

VPN interest worldwide

The COVID-19 pandemic has ushered in countless changes and adaptations around the globe, one of which is a greatly increased interest in VPN’s. We’ve seen an influx of traffic, mostly from consumers who appear to be completely new to VPN’s.

I’ve been using Google Trends to track the spike in interest and see what interesting tidbits can be learned.

Worldwide Interest is Up

Global VPN Interest
Global VPN Interest as of April 14, 2020

Live Data from Google Trends

March 17, 2020. It looks like global interest is up about 11% over the last week or so. I would expect this to continue increasing over the next 2-3 weeks as the virus continues to spread to new countries/regions.

April 14, 2020. VPN interest peaked at ~60% higher than usual the week of March 15-21. It’s declined since then but is still up more about 25% above pre-COVID levels.

VPN Interest In Italy Skyrocketed in Mid-March

Google Trends for VPN Interest in Italy
VPN Interest in Italy as of April 14, 2020

Live Data From Google Trends

March 17, 2020. This makes sense, because Italy was one of the first countries to be locked down. More users working from, watching media from home, etc. It will be interesting to see what new level the VPN interest holds at after this initial spike.

April 14, 2020. VPN interest in Italy has remained far above where it was pre-COVID. As of now Italy is still in lockdown-mode.

VPN Interest in US Doubled Before Declining

Google Trends for VPN in the US
VPN interest trends in the US as of April 14, 2020

Live Data From Google Trends

March 17, 2020. Again, this follow closely with the global spread of COVID-19. The US is behind Italy at the moment, so it follows that VPN interest is moving along the same path. If the US is truly following the same pattern, I would expect to see an even larger increase in interest over the next 1-2 weeks.

April 14, 2020. US interest peaked during the week of March 15-21, doubling previous interest. As Americans settled into shelter-in-place orders and schools and businesses closed, VPN interest peaked and then started declining. Interest is still significantly higher than before COVID-19.

Why the Increased Interest in VPN?

What can we learn from this spike in interest? Here are a few of my hypotheses.

Increase in corporate VPN interest due to working from home

Many people working from home, particularly for larger companies, are asked to utilize the company’s VPN to connect to the corporate network. Google Trends bears out this relationship very well, as you can see the clear connection between the increase in VPN interest and work from home interest over the last 2 months.

"Work From Home" Interest vs "VPN" Interest from Google Trends
“Work From Home” Interest vs “VPN” Interest from Google Trends as of April 14, 2020

People stuck at home are watching more online entertainment

Consumer VPN is synonymous with online streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, etc. because of the issue of geolocation. The data in Google Trends tends to back up this assumption to some degree. It’s hard to directly compare “VPN” to “Netflix” because of the vast difference in popularity, but if you focus on increases over the last couple of months in the chart below it’s hard to argue that they don’t correlate very well.

"VPN" interest vs "Netflix" interest on Google Trends
“VPN” interest vs “Netflix” interest on Google Trends as of April 14, 2020

More to Come

We’ll continue to update this post as more information becomes available.

Now Accepting Paypal Payments

We’re excited to announce that we are now accepting Paypal payments for our VPN service. Paypal is a simple, safe & secure way to pay.

Pay for VPN with Paypal

Payments Accepted

Ghost Path accepts the following methods of payment now:

  • Credit Cards (Visa, Mastercard, American Express, and Discover)
  • Paypal
  • Bitcoin
  • Cash or Money Order

How to Pay With Paypal

If you are new to Ghost Path then simply visit our pricing page to choose your VPN plan. When you click the Buy Now button you will see the option to pay with Paypal.

We don’t have a way for current customers to migrated payments from credit cards or Bitcoin to Paypal. We’re working on that for a future release. If you need to do this immediately then just email us and we’ll take care of it.

More Payment Options in the Future

We’re committed to making Ghost Path as accessible as possible, and that means accepting as many types of payments as possible. We’re working to bring more payment options online in the near future. If you have any suggestions then feel free to contact us.

The Risks of Online Gaming & How to Stay Safe

Whether you’re an all-out “gamer” or simply enjoy a few hands of online poker every now and then, all that online gaming fun comes with its own set of risks.

WThe risks of online gaminghen we turn to the internet for gaming entertainment often the last think we think about (or want to think about) is the fact that we’re opening ourselves up to potentially be the victim of scams, identity theft or viruses.

If you spend any time gaming, then take a few minutes to read through the risks below and how to avoid them!

The Risks…

  • Large, online gaming communities may feel “friendly” but the truth is, you’re surrounded by strangers, which means you could unthinkingly share too much personal info like your full name, email address, age or even online passwords.
  • When you download “cheats” you could actually be downloading corrupt software that contains viruses.
  • Illegally downloading games could lead to severe penalties or even prosecution.
  • Getting rid of old game consoles, computers, mobile devices, etc. that still contain your personal info can put you at risk of identity theft.

Ok, now that you recognize some of the risks of online gaming, let’s go over how to protect yourself so you can keep on gaming without the worry.

How to Stay Safe…

  • Make sure you have updated antivirus software.
  • Only play authorized, legitimate versions of games that you have obtained/purchased legally and from the proper sources.
  • Choose a secure username that does not reveal personal info.
  • Create strong and long passwords.
  • Never share personal info with other players.
  • Keep your game software up-to-date.
  • Delete all personal info before disposing of or selling unwanted gaming devices.
  • Establish rules and guidelines for your children when they’re playing online (and model good behavior)!

To protect yourself even further, consider setting up a VPN so that you can mask your location and identity and never worry about online gaming hazards again! For more information about getting a Virtual Private Network, click HERE.

 

Risks & safety measures inspired by this post on GetSafeOnline.org.

10 People Who Need a VPN [infographic]

Do you need a VPN?

We’ll get to the answer to that question in a minute, but first, let’s back it up.

Do you know what a VPN is?

VPN is a Virtual Private Network. And, it’s an effective, safe and easy way to add security and privacy to both public and private networks. Basically, it enables you to freely use and browse the Internet without the fear of putting yourself at risk of cybercrimes, hackers, or geographic restrictions.

As you can imagine, having a VPN can be really beneficial, but there are specific groups of people who really can benefit from having a VPN.

If you’re wondering if you are a one of them, check out the infographic below to find out!


Click HERE to view infographic in a new page.

 

For even more info about how a VPN can benefit you, visit GhostPath.com.

What The Big Dogs Are NOT Telling You About The Security Of Your Mobile Device

Screen Shot 2014-09-02 at 10.57.29 AMEver feel like you’re not getting the whole story?

Well, we’ve done some digging and it turns out that there’s quite a lot that the big dogs (namely Google and Apple) are NOT telling you about the security of your mobile device.

According to a recent Unisys study on workplace mobile habits, it was found that many business users access important corporate data using non-secure methods, like public WiFi. Plus, an increasing number of employees are accessing their workplace’s business applications on their personal devices, putting both themselves, sensitive data and their company at risk.

And worse, most people don’t give a second thought to the security of their devices before logging on at a WiFi hotspot or checking their email using mobile data.

Here are some enlightening facts about our mobile device habits & security:

  • By 2020 there will be 50 billion (yes, with a b) internet-connected devices
  • 51% of organizations have experience data loss in the last year from non-secure device usage
  • 32% of Americans say they prefer to use simple passwords; a practice that puts you & your data at risk
  • In a recent media company security breach, it was uncovered that 3,000 users had the password “123456” and 2,000 users used “password” as their password

In order to better protect yourself, your data & your mobile device, get a VPN (virtual private network), which will encrypt your data and protect your privacy no matter what device you use to connect to the Internet.

 

This post was inspired by this infographic.

3 Myths & Truths About Your Child’s Safety Online

Screen Shot 2014-08-25 at 11.26.27 AMThere’s a lot of talk these days about the many risks of children being online.

We hear news story after news story about cyberbullying, online child predators, and others with malicious intent lurking around every corner. Sure, there are risks, and practicing safe online usage is essential, but most of the time the benefits of the Internet far outweigh the potential hazards.

In today’s post, we’re debunking some common myths about your child’s safety online, and we’ll fill you in on the real truths of each situation.

MYTH #1: Social media transforms kids into bullies.

TRUTH: Social media is just another outlet for bullying — it doesn’t turn kids into bullies. Most kids who engage in online bullying are also often bullies at school and usually have another reason for acting out, like family issues, school problems, etc. The most productive thing to do is for parents and teachers to educate themselves about the warning signs of bullying so that they can step-in before the behavior goes too far.

MYTH #2: Never post photos of your children on social media — it’s too dangerous!

TRUTH: By using the appropriate privacy settings, you can post pictures AND keep your children safe. To ensure that your kids remain safe & protected, (1) use privacy settings that limit your posts’ reach to only family and trusted friends, (2) limit your audience by using photo-share sites that require a login to see pictures, like Flickr, and (3) don’t tag or identify your children in the photos.

MYTH #3: Strict parental control setting are the best way to protect your children online.

TRUTH: Using just one measure for online security gives you a false sense of safety. Parental controls are just one piece of the puzzle, you also need to openly discuss online safety precautions with your children, share the risks of being online, establish agreed-upon rules, and encourage your children to be both responsible and respectful when online.

To further protect your children from online risks, consider setting up a VPN to ensure privacy, security & safety while online. For more information, click HERE.

 

This post was inspired by this article.

 

Censorship & Security Issues While Traveling

If you’re a frequent traveler, you likely know the headaches and risks that can arise with censorship, geographic restrictions and unsecured WiFi.

In our wired world, we often take for granted the ease and security of connecting to the Internet at home, and then when we travel, we’re suddenly hit with outrageous usage fees, limited access and compromised public WiFi that puts our data and identities at risk.

Well, we put together a fun infographic that demonstrates the censorship and security issues travelers face, as well as a solution that’ll remove the blocks and the worry!

Travel VPN Infographic

For more info about VPNs (virtual private networks), click here.

7 Rules for Safer Online Shopping

For most people online shopping has become the norm.

Our busy schedules prevent us from trekking to the mall every time we need something, so instead we visit online retailers to fulfill our shopping needs.

Safe online shopping

But, not all online shopping destinations are created equal, and while many sites are trustworthy and legitimate, there are a number of fake online retailers that are just waiting to rip you off.

Luckily, a little online shopping savvy can go a long way to protecting you, your money and your identity.

Read through our online shopping rules below to keep yourself safe online.

  1. Stick to sites that you know & trust. Instead of starting your online shopping with a search engine, begin at a trusted retailer like Amazon, Target, Lowe’s or Macy’s. Search engines can lead you to places that are not trustworthy, especially if you venture past the first page or two of search results. Also, check the spelling of the site’s name (Amazon.com versus Amazn.com*). Many “copycat” sites try to get your money by looking “familiar”, and check the top-level domain as well (Amazon.com versus Amazon.net*). *These are fictitious examples.
  2. Use credit cards. Credit cards tend to be the safest option for online shopping because you have recourse. If an ordered item is never delivered or you find fraudulent charges on your card, the credit card company will work with you to remedy those issues and get you your money back. But, if you use a debit card or give access to your bank account, it can be a lot more challenging to get your money back after you fall prey to a scam. Check your statements regularly, and keep an eye out for suspicious activity.
  3. Keep a paper trail. Whenever you make purchases online, be sure to save any and all documentation that you receive via email in an email folder or, better yet, print hard copies of receipts, terms of sale, product descriptions, and any emails that you exchange with the retailer. Again, this will be helpful and necessary should you find yourself the target on an online shopping scam.
  4. Only shop with the “lock”. Any time you’re about to make an online purchase, look for the lock. Make sure that the site has SSL (secure sockets layer) encryption installed. You can determine if it does because an SSL url will begin with https:// (instead of http://). Typically, a little lock icon will also appear next to the site’s url or in the status bar; another indication of a secure site.
  5. Shut down your machine. Do you typically leave your computer running and connected to the Internet 24/7? While that may seem like no big deal to you, it means that you’re leaving your machine open to cybercriminals all day and night. This gives hackers the opportunity to infest your system with malware and commit cybercrimes. Instead, after making a purchase, turn off your computer and protect yourself and your money!
  6. Don’t overshare! Only fill out the necessary (i.e. “starred”) information when making on online purchase. No online retailer needs your birth date, social security number, or other unnecessary personal data to complete your transaction. Don’t make it easy for online criminals, instead be cautious, don’t over share, and you’ll protect yourself from identity theft.
  7. Use a secure connection. Don’t conduct your online shopping while using unsecured public WiFi. This is an open invitation to hackers, peeping Toms, and identity theft. Instead, wait to make online purchases from a secure network like your home or place of work.

If you want to further protect yourself, your money and your identity while shopping online, consider getting a VPN. For more details about how a Virtual Private Network can improve your online experience, visit Ghost Path.

4 Questions to Ask BEFORE Buying a VPN

If you regularly use public WiFi, travel for work, worry about Internet security, or simply value you privacy, you’re probably considering getting a VPN (Virtual Private Network).

4 questions for your VPN provider

A VPN is essentially a protective “tunnel” that secures the connection between your laptop, smartphone or tablet and the Internet. This ensures that all your online activity is protected from hackers, peeping toms, or others with malicious intent who are using the same network.

But, before you got out and buy one, it’s important to consider your needs and usage habits so that you choose the best possible VPN for you!

Here are 4 questions to consider before you buy a VPN:

  1. Do you regularly travel out of the country? Many of your favorite services, like Netflix, Hulu, or Amazon on Demand, are blocked once you travel outside of the USA, and many decide to get a VPN to bypass these limitations. To ensure you get the right one for you, ask your VPN service provider if they have exit servers in the U.S. meaning that you can “appear” to be in the United States when you’re actually enjoying a cappuccino in Rome. (GhostPath VPN is totally equipped to help you bypass any foreign country limitation, so you can catch up on House of Cards even while you’re abroad.)
  2. Can it be used across all your devices? You may think you only need a VPN for your computer, but the truth is more and more Internet security breaches are occurring on our smartphones and tablets because they’re portable and we can easily use them in public (often on unsecured WiFi networks). (Our GhostPath VPN works seamlessly with laptops, computers, smartphones and tablets, so no matter what device you’re using, you’re covered!)
  3. Can I use it on my router? Using a VPN in conjunction with your wireless router is a great way to protect all of your internet connected devices in one fell swoop. (GhostPath supports using DD-WRT to connect to the VPN at the router level, meaning all your internet connected devices are protected. Keep in mind DD-WRT will only work if it’s supported by your router.)
  4. Are there any limitations? Make sure to ask about bandwidth limitations, as that can greatly impact your user experience. Also, ask if the VPN you’re considering works with all service providers. (GhostPath syncs with all major operating systems including Windows, Mac OS X, Ubuntu, Android, and iOS. And, there are no download limits, no throttling, and no maximum number of server changes! You are free to use our service however you see fit.)

Click here for more information on our VPN service.

 

Some questions inspired by this post from PC World.