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Brits spend more than 22 years of their lives online

If you're British, you'll probably spend more than two full decades of your life online, according to new research by NordVPN. That might sound like a lot, but it's the reality for most internet users in the UK. Here's why that's great news for cybercriminals.

Malcolm Higgins

Malcolm Higgins

Apr 28, 2021 · 3 min read

Brits spend more than 22 years of their lives online

Brits rely on the internet more than ever

Researchers at NordVPN surveyed 2000 adults about their internet habits, work patterns, and cybersecurity concerns. The data creates a striking picture of the British online experience, in which the average adult spends more than 22 years of their life using the internet.

Let’s break those numbers down:

  • The average Brit spends 59 hours a week online — that’s more than two days.
  • During the week, they will probably dedicate almost eight hours to streaming films and TV shows.
  • The UK has seen a massive shift towards home-working since the start of 2020; possibly as a result, Brits spend more than three hours a week on video calls.
  • UK workers now use the internet for a total of 47 days each year for work purposes.
  • More than three quarters of UK adults use two or more internet devices in their daily lives.

The integration of the internet into every facet of our lives seems to be an inevitable progression. So why should you be worried?

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The risks of online life

While the pandemic is clearly driving the shift towards remote work and online reliance, all of these numbers will probably increase in the years to come. As technology advances, people in the UK and beyond will become increasingly dependent on the internet for work, communication, entertainment, and storage.

But the more you use the internet, the more attractive a target you are for hackers and cybercriminals. Living a life online comes with some serious risks:

  • The malware pandemic: One problem a vaccine won’t fix is the spread of malicious software, or malware. Infectious and sophisticated, malware can quietly install itself on your device, steal your data, spy on your browsing activity, and set up further attacks.
  • A sea of scams: If like most people you use email, you’re at risk from phishing attacks. A hacker can spam you with emails pretending to be legitimate sender — a bank or even a family friend — and try to trick you into giving away sensitive information.
  • Grand Theft Data: Criminals want your personal information. Whether they’re stealing your identity and running up credit card debt or using your stolen passwords to launch phishing scams, there’s no end to the trouble a data thief can cause.

If Brits are online for 22 years, using the internet in every aspect of their work and personal lives, cybercriminals have a huge range of potential targets.

How safe are you online?

Before you can decide how to improve your cybersecurity, it’s important to identify any bad internet habits that may be putting you at risk.

The Online Habits Quiz is a great place to start. This questionnaire will help you identify your personal risk-level, and can flag up potential blindspots.

Whatever result you get from the Online Habits Quiz, however, there are always some steps you can take today to strengthen security online.

UK internet use

Protect yourself in 3 simple steps

Whether you’re British or not, you probably use the internet on a daily basis. Here are three actionable precautions you can implement today to keep your data secure.

    1. Stop opening unexpected emails. If you receive an email from an organization, a government agency, or even a friend, don’t open it if you weren’t expecting it. Phishing scams often involve carefully disguised emails, so either ignore unsolicited messages, or contact the sender on another platform. If your bank suddenly emails you, give them a call or use their website’s live-chat to confirm the message’s authenticity.
    2. Limit social media use. Social media may seem harmless, but oversharing on Facebook or Twitter is not without risk. Criminals can use the information you post on these platforms to steal your identity in the real world, or to set up fake social media accounts in your name. If you’re going to use social media, do so with caution, and make sure your profiles aren’t public.
    3. Use a VPN. A VPN, or virtual private network, will encrypt your browsing data, so no one can spy on your activity. This is especially useful if you regularly use public Wi-Fi, a popular hunting ground for hackers. With one NordVPN account, you can protect up to six devices, including phones, computers, smart TVs, and routers.

Online security starts with a click.

Stay safe with the world’s leading VPN