1 in 5 people aren't protecting themselves against cyber attacks

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With more users spending an increasing amount of time online, protecting yourself from cyberattacks by using antivirus software (opens in new tab) and a VPN (opens in new tab) on all of your devices has never been more important.

However, according to the results of a new survey (opens in new tab) from Tom's Guide, one in five people aren't taking any steps at all to safeguard their data and their devices.

By using the real-time polling platform (opens in new tab) OnePulse, the news outlet recently surveyed 1,000 randomly-selected users in both the US and UK to learn more about their online security habits.

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In addition to the fact that 20 percent of respondents aren't using any security or privacy tools, the survey also found that users mostly trust antivirus and VPN companies with their data.

Staying safe online

In response to the question “what cybersecurity software do you use to stay safer and more private online?”, almost half of respondents (45.6%) indicated that they use free antivirus software (opens in new tab) such as Microsoft Defender (opens in new tab) on their devices. Meanwhile, 21 percent of those surveyed said they pay either monthly or annually for antivirus software.

When it came to VPN services, responses were quite similar between paid and free options with 13.8 percent saying they use a paid VPN while 12.8 percent said they used a free VPN. While a free VPN (opens in new tab) can be useful for bypassing online restrictions quickly, you could be putting your data at risk as few of these services provide a no-log VPN (opens in new tab).

Respondents to the survey from Tom's Guide also indicated that they use other security and privacy tools to protect themselves online including malware removal softwar (opens in new tab)e (9.8%), Tor (opens in new tab) (1.8%) and proxy services (opens in new tab) (1.4%).

At a time when we carry our whole online identities with us on our smartphones (opens in new tab) and use laptops (opens in new tab) and desktop PCs (opens in new tab) for banking and sending other sensitive data, using an antivirus and VPN is quickly becoming a necessity to stay protected from cyberattacks. While it may seem cheaper to forgo using paid security services in the short term, falling victim to identity theft (opens in new tab) can be extremely expensive and recovering your identity could end up taking years.

Via Tom's Guide (opens in new tab)

After working with the TechRadar Pro team for the last several years, Anthony is now the security and networking editor at Tom’s Guide where he covers everything from data breaches and ransomware gangs to the best way to cover your whole home or business with Wi-Fi. When not writing, you can find him tinkering with PCs and game consoles, managing cables and upgrading his smart home.