NordVPN is the world’s most advanced VPN service provider worldwide. Its product is very user-friendly, offers one of the best prices on the market, has over 5,000 servers in 60 countries worldwide, and is P2P-friendly. One of the key features of NordVPN is the zero-log policy. Marijus Briedis is a CTO at NordVPN, a leading VPN service provider. Years of web development and system administration eventually led Marijus to become a VPN industry expert. Besides his passion for everything IT, Marijus is a lifetime learner, discovering the world with a positive attitude.
Inkwood: What are the trends in VPN products that will prove beneficial for corporates?
Marijus Briedis: The requirements for an enterprise VPN stem from broader present-day organizational network needs. De-perimeterization is the key trend driving the rapid changes, and VPNs must ensure speed and connectivity wherever the employees are trying to access the corporate network. In addition to the widespread server infrastructure and encryption, businesses are looking for scalability and cloud compatibility. Corporate cybersecurity is moving towards the Secure Access Service Edge (SASE), comprising the Cloud Access Security Broker (CASB), Secure Web Gateway (SWG), and Zero-Trust Network Access (ZTNA). All these solutions make Zero Trust Network Broker, which is an integral part of a next-generation network. This software-defined perimeter is easy to scale and is not limited to the corporate headquarter systems.
Also, consider the user experience. As most connect to their workplace remotely, cybersecurity measures must be accessible to each employee, be it an IT engineer or a marketing manager. Thus, an effective VPN should be intuitive and understandable without elaborate security knowledge.
Inkwood: How has COVID-19 impacted Nord Security, and what have been the opportunities during the pandemic?
Marijus Briedis: 2020, or the year of the pandemic, brought many improvements to our company and upgrades to our services. We launched Nord Security, the umbrella brand for our cybersecurity products: NordVPN, NordVPN Teams, NordPass, and NordLocker. Nord Security was a major step toward our goal of providing users with all the online security tools they need to stay safe.
In addition, one of Nord Security’s products, the B2B VPN solution NordVPN Teams, revealed that Business VPN usage spiked by 165% due to remote work during the pandemic. The usage of business VPNs skyrocketed during March and April of 2020, which coincided with a widely reported spike in the utilization of home networks and devices, many of which might lack the protection necessary for secure remote work.
Moreover, many governments took advantage of the pandemic to increase surveillance, data collection, and censorship. Worldwide quarantines and lockdowns forced everyone online and ushered in an era of remote learning. All of this increased the risk of becoming a victim of online surveillance or a cyberattack. That’s why Nord Security launched the “Stay safe” campaign. We offered six months of free online security tools (NordVPN, NordPass, and NordLocker) to non-profit organizations, content creators, and educators suffering from the COVID-19 crisis.
Inkwood: How has the upsurge in usage of mobile and wireless devices helped in the growth of mobile VPN technology?
Marijus Briedis: Prior to the pandemic, mobile NordVPN growth was seen as steady and firm. After the pandemic, we saw a slight shift toward more desktop usage, mostly because people were not on the move as much as before, and PC/laptops took over the main usage time. Talking about the future and what will happen next, nobody knows for sure, but what we expect is that the pandemic will be part of history, and people will be on the move as never before. And, as people become active, so will be threats on their mobile devices. That’s where mobile VPN technologies can help.
Moreover, according to the data from the B2B solution NordVPN Teams, people are working at least two hours more a day than they did before the COVID-19 outbreak. The US is spending some extra three hours per day on business VPNs — that figure marks the highest jump worldwide. There has been a “massive spike in desktop usage” as people around the world have started to work remotely since March 11, 2020, in the wake of the global Coronavirus pandemic.
Inkwood: What are the challenges of VPN that need to be tackled?
Marijus Briedis: There are quite a few of them. Besides the usual challenges that most businesses face, VPN service providers must deal with issues arising from the limited amount of data they have. For example, we are constantly looking for ways to minimize the abuse of our service without compromising the privacy of our customers. It’s not an easy task, having in mind the lack of means we have to identify the abuser. We also must keep up with the fast-paced world of cybersecurity, constantly scrutinize and update our infrastructure, lookout for new features, and patch up vulnerabilities. I guess this is only the tip of the iceberg, and we could go on and on about it, but if I had to name a single challenge, it would probably be education. Communicating with less tech-savvy communities and raising cybersecurity awareness is a difficult yet very important task. We build our product and our messages around the idea that, to some extent, cybersecurity should not be overly complicated and that it can be available to everyone.
Inkwood: How has the growth of IoT and Bring your own Devices impacted the cybersecurity market?
Marijus Briedis: A recent survey by our password manager NordPass revealed that 62% of employees are extremely vulnerable to cybersecurity attacks due to using personal computers for remote work during the pandemic. 42% claimed to use personal devices exclusively, and 20% switched between personal and company laptops depending on convenience. Personal laptops might lack the necessary security software, such as anti-virus, a business VPN, and others. On top of that, people tend to be more relaxed when using personal computers and download games, browse dodgy websites, and click on suspicious links. As WFH is extremely popular, hackers are constantly finding ways to break into networks through IoT devices or use them in large-scale DDoS attacks. These findings alarm cybersecurity experts.
Inkwood: What do you feel could be the future trends of VPN as a service market?
Marijus Briedis: VPN usage spiked during the pandemic, as the coronavirus caused massive digital transformation for many businesses and office workers, and the significance of VPN does not seem to decrease. The industry will be growing together with the growing number of remote workers using a VPN to access corporate resources. Nowadays, as the number of data leaks and identity thefts is increasing, a virtual private network (VPN) becomes crucial, as it creates an encrypted tunnel for your data, protects your online identity by hiding your IP address, and allows you to use public Wi-Fi hotspots safely.