By Sebastian Schaub, CEO and Co-Founder, hide.me VPN
The worldwide VPN market is conservatively valued at over $20 Billion and is predicted to nearly double in value over the next couple of years or so. As we exit a tumultuous year for businesses of all shapes and sizes, what can we expect to see happening in the VPN market over the next 12 months? Will the rise in cybersecurity threats help to drive uptake of VPN services? Will COVID’s impact on an increasingly remote workforce also drive the need for more VPN connections? Or are there other areas that need consideration too? Let’s take a look here.
VPN trust initiative (VTI) continues best practice drive
VTI celebrated its first birthday in 2020, so what lies ahead? The VPN Trust Initiative is an industry-led and member-driven consortium of VPN business leaders focused on improving digital safety for consumers by building understanding, strengthening trust, and mitigating risk for VPN users. This group of like-minded companies (which we are proud to be a part of), look to create guidelines that all members should follow. If you consider that not all VPN services are equal, then the consortium exists to strengthen trust and understanding among users.
Whilst VPNs remain relatively unknown to the ‘general’ population, and marketing efforts look to address this, any stories regarding certain VPN apps spying on users and stealing personal information only serve to weaken the cause. In this way the VTI is an effective way to demonstrate to anybody looking to choose a VPN, that they can have full confidence in the services offered by any one of its members. This drive for best practice amongst our members should be a priority as we look to cement our reputation against a backdrop of increasing security concerns and a general public looking for enhanced levels of digital safety.
Native support for IPv6
With the massive expansion of computers, mobile phones, and any other internet-connected devices, the original IP address scheme can’t cope with the demand for addresses. All of these devices need a numerical IP address so that they can communicate with each other. In this sense, IPv6 is the way forward – we believe that it’s the only way forward. So you might be surprised to learn that many VPNs available today do not support IPv6. We have chosen to support IPv6 and you really should be considering a VPN that offers native support for IPv6. Without support for IPv6, anonymity gets reduced and connectivity suffers and, as a user, this is exactly what you don’t want and goes against what a VPN should be offering. With the web transitioning to use the IPv6 protocol, you need to be future-proofing your browsing by choosing a VPN provider that supports IPv6. This is no longer a case of a ‘nice to have’ – it’s an absolute must have.
A term coined by Tijmen Schep (technology critic and privacy designer), social cooling helps a wider audience understand the long-term negative side-effects of living in a data driven society. Tijmen believes that digital systems greatly amplify social pressure, which in turn could lead to more conformity. The concept of Big Data has been a media darling in recent times, but Schep’s insights provides a welcome balance. To this end, he uses the analogy of oil leading to global warming, and data leading to social cooling. It is a fascinating concept that looks at how algorithms play such a big part and the role that digital reputation has to play, but from a VPN perspective, perhaps privacy is the area that stands out the most here.
Privacy is the right to be imperfect, even when judged by algorithms. We should be able to click on that link without fear, make comments without reprisal or befriend who we want without affecting our ability to get a job or a loan. Privacy and anonymity are the cornerstones of any decent VPN. It allows you to overcome blockages, geo-restrictions and ad tracking (a massive data compiler). I passionately believe in protecting those who wish to maintain their privacy and anonymity online. My mission will always be to raise awareness here, whilst all around us, data mining and the information it exposes on all of us, increases aggressively.
We believe that privacy, centralisation and the power of the so-called, big 5 tech companies will play a central role in antitrust cases. Could we see breaking up big tech as a popular agenda item? We think so.
A slice of the anti-virus pie?
We see a movement towards VPN providers attempting to consolidate and diversify into products like bundled software in order to compete with the more ‘traditional’ anti-virus companies.
About the Author
Sebastian has been working in the internet security industry for over a decade. He started hide.me VPN, 9 years ago to make internet security and privacy accessible to everybody.