2022-06-17 | Press release | Cybersecurity disconnect between digitally free and unfree countries persists as freedom on the net declines

The Avast Digital Wellbeing Report shows that people in countries with greater digital freedom face fewer cybersecurity risks and stricter privacy regulations, but privacy transparency remains a challenge. worldwide problem

PRAGUE, June 17, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — Avast (LSE: AVST), a global leader in digital security and privacy, has released its first Digital Wellbeing Report today. The Covid-19 pandemic has had an unprecedented impact on the well-being of internet users across the world, with an unprecedented spread of misinformation, cybercriminals abusing unwitting internet users with scams and cyberattacks, and several governments using authoritarian tactics. In the Digital Wellbeing Report, Avast reveals that people living in countries with greater digital freedom are less exposed to cyberattacks, but exhibit the same lack of transparency in privacy policies as those living in countries where the Internet is less free.

“This pivotal report illustrates that cyberattacks go hand in hand with online law enforcement.” Mike Abramowitzliberty house

“Our results indicate that where governments around the world restrict the online freedom of their citizens, there is a corresponding increased risk of people falling victim to cyberattacks. This is often linked to lower GDP in these countries, which leads to the use of older systems, which are more prone to attack, and the use of free and potentially illegal content which is often less secure.However, the distinction is not clear: people in countries where freedom is greater still face frequent attacks, and our results show that there is still work to be done when it comes to protecting privacy – in free countries and in unfree countries,” said Ondrej Vlcek, CEO of Avast. “To solve the problem of digital freedom, innovation is needed in the area of ​​cybersecurity and digital trust solutions that will create more security and transparency for all.”

For the Digital Wellbeing report, Avast combined its own data on cybersecurity risks and privacy issues with that of Freedom House”Freedom on the Net” 2021 report, which assesses a country’s freedom to use the internet, based on the existence of surveillance and restrictions such as blocked social networks, censorship or deliberately manipulated online discussions and ICT networks Avast defines digital wellbeing as a combination of digital freedom, cybersecurity and privacy, with the ability for an internet user to use the internet in an open, regulated, private, secure and informed way.

Amid worrying global trends that include the rise of cybercrime and malicious activity, and governments around the world adopting increasingly authoritarian tactics, well-being and freedom of expression online today are increasingly threatened around the world. For the report, Avast compared data, including the risks of becoming a victim of cyberattacks, the age of users’ computer systems, and the presence, transparency, and readability of privacy policies to data from the Freedom on the Net report. from Freedom House, which assesses countries’ online freedom by examining aspects such as whether their government has blocked social media platforms, deliberately disrupted ICT networks, arrested or physically harmed a blogger or ICT user for political content or social.

“This pivotal report illustrates that cyberattacks go hand in hand with online repression. We’re proud that Freedom House’s Freedom on the Net report sheds light on Avast’s work to empower digital wellbeing,” said Mike Abramowitzpresident of Freedom House.

Less digital freedom, more cyber risks

The report found that people living in free countries are less likely to be victims of a cyberattack (30%) than people living in partially free or non-free countries (36% in both cases). This could be related to factors such as a higher rate of violation of user rights, banning of encryption services, large-scale state surveillance, data harvesting, and the presence of backdoors being used. for state surveillance, showing an indirect correlation between a state’s Freedom on the Net score and the risk ratio of encountering a cyberattack. Additionally, countries that are not free often have lower GDP per capita, which can lead to increased use of torrent sites to access free content, games, movies through unsecured sources, which can expose users to a high number of online risks.

Risk of being the victim of a cyberattack

in the top ten free countries

(#1 being more free)

Risk of being the victim of a cyberattack

in the ten lowest countries Not free

(#1 being less free)

  1. Iceland 33.2%
  2. Estonia 30.8%
  3. Canada 26.9%
  4. Costa Rica 27.6%
  5. Taiwan 36.6%
  6. Germany 24.1%
  7. France 27%
  8. United Kingdom 24.4%
  9. Georgia 33.6%
  10. Italy 23.9%
  1. China 46.8%
  2. Burma 33.7%
  3. Vietnam 43.3%
  4. Saudi Arabia 33.9%
  5. Pakistan 40.2%
  6. Egypt 44.7%
  7. United Arab Emirates 36.1%
  8. Ethiopia 43.2%
  9. Venezuela 37.5%
  10. Uzbekistan 32.9%

Avast researchers have further observed a correlation between the age of the operating systems used and the risk of cyberattacks for citizens. Comparing the Freedom House Freedom on the Net Index ranking to internal Avast data, it can be inferred that in wealthier countries, such as those higher in the index, including Germany, France and in the UK, users tend to have up-to-date operating systems, which can better protect them against cyberattacks. Conversely, users from countries that scored lower on the Freedom on the Net index, such as Indonesia, Turkeyand Belarus, have on average a lower GDP per capita and tend to use more outdated operating systems, which increases the risk of cyber attack. The researchers found that only 28% of users in free countries still use outdated operating systems. In contrast, 38% of users in partially free countries use outdated systems, and this figure is even higher in nonfree countries ranked by the Freedom on the Net index (41%).

Research shows that privacy policies are not enough

Today’s report also found that privacy policies in general are found more often in free countries, with websites from free countries (as designated by the Freedom on the Net Index) being more likely to have implemented privacy policies (70%) than websites. in countries considered partly free and not free (52% and 47%). However, the report also found that although privacy policies are more prevalent in free countries, there does not appear to be a direct correlation between the vagueness and readability of these policies and the level of online freedom in these countries. country. In other words, it seems that the mere presence of a strong privacy policy in a country may not be enough to ensure sufficient privacy protection for its citizens.

“Privacy regulations such as GDPR in Europe and CCPA in California require users to be informed of how their data is used, which is supposed to create more transparency for the user. However, if privacy policies are written in a vague and unreadable manner, this goal is essentially missed,” said Ondrej Vlcek.

Average readability of privacy in English

policies in the top ten free countries (the higher the better)

Average readability of privacy in English

policies in the ten lowest countries

(#1 being less free) / (the higher the better)

  1. Iceland 49%
  2. Estonia 48%
  3. Canada 45%
  4. Costa Rican 46%
  5. Taiwan 45%
  6. Germany 49%
  7. French 46%
  8. United Kingdom 48%
  9. Georgia 48%
  10. Italy 44%
  1. Myanmar 47%
  2. Vietnam 49%
  3. Saudi Arabia 46%
  4. Pakistani 48%
  5. Egypt 48%
  6. United Arab Emirates 46%
  7. Ethiopia 48%
  8. Venezuela 48%
  9. Russia 46%
  10. Bahrain 46%

Metric: Chinaand the tenth least free country, Uzbekistan have not been assessed and are therefore not included in this table.

This study builds more on the Avast study Digital Citizen Report Posted in September 2021which explored post-pandemic online behaviors and is part of Avast’s efforts to understand how our online lives can be improved.

For more information, see the full report: https://press.avast.com/digital-wellbeing-report

About Avast:

Avast (LSE: AVST), a FTSE 100 company, is a global leader in digital security and privacy, headquartered in Prague, Czech Republic. With more than 435 million online users, Avast offers products under the Avast and AVG brands that protect users against Internet threats and the changing IoT threat landscape. The company’s threat detection network is one of the most advanced in the world, using machine learning and artificial intelligence technologies to detect and stop threats in real time. Avast digital security products for mobile, PC or Mac are top rated and certified by VB100, AV-Comparatives, AV-Test, SE Labs and others. Avast is a member of the Coalition Against Stalkerware, No More Ransom, and the Internet Watch Foundation. Visit: www.avast.com.

Stay in touch with Avast:

Media Contact: Marina Ziegler[email protected]

Ondrej Vlcek, CEO of Avast (PRNewsfoto/Avast)

Avast Software Logo (PRNewsfoto/Avast Software, Inc.)

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SOURCEAvast Software, Inc.

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