Taiwan and Hong Kong have been a regular talking point regarding cybersecurity and online privacy. For Hong Kong especially, after sweeping privacy reforms forcefully imposed by mainland China, retaining online privacy is difficult. How has the ever-looming threat of a cyber takeover affected public VPN usage for those in Hong Kong and Taiwan?
NordVPN researchers have compiled data recorded between January 2021 and February 2022 to find out how much of the Hong Kong and Taiwanese public are aware of VPNs and their various benefits.
Unsurprisingly, being so close to mainland China, VPN awareness is incredibly high amongst Hong Kong residents, with only 22% of people asked unable to name a VPN brand. Similar numbers can be observed in Taiwan, with 36% of respondents unable to identify a brand.
Due to the geopolitical situation with China and the very real and direct threat of internet censorship being enforced in their country, it's clear why the the populations need to be aware of all the security options available. This is reflected in the percentage of the public that knows about VPNs.
As any cybersecurity expert will tell you, it’s always best to go premium if you want the best quality available. While the option of a free VPN is enticing, you must remember that a service needs to make money somehow. If the service is free, your data is normally the price you pay for it. Free VPN services may not have the same encryption strength as premium ones and can even opt to sell user data on to third-party advertisers.
It seems this sentiment isn’t lost on the people of Hong Kong, as the public are more likely to purchase premium VPNs with long-term plans. Contrast this situation to the geographically separated Taiwan, the residents of which seem to favor free VPNs for the time being. Depending on how Hong Kong’s future is handled by mainland China, we may see a similar trend with the Taiwanese public.
There’s another contributing factor to Hong Kong and Taiwan’s paid vs. free contrast. Hong Kong residents will use a VPN mainly for security and privacy purposes. They can’t afford to be caught, so paying for a premium online privacy tool is paramount. VPN usage in Taiwan, however, has been more frequently linked with getting access to region-locked content rather than cybersecurity.
If there’s one thing that both the people of Hong Kong and Taiwan share, it’s being tech savvy. Both nations have shown an upward trend in awareness of internet tracking and a growing distaste for it if the surge in VPN popularity is anything to go by.
Is the growing interest in VPNs in Hong Kong and Taiwan a sign of things to come? As more people become aware of the dangers they face online, the need for security measures becomes apparent. How long will it be until VPNs are as much of a household name as antivirus software?