Russia Spent $10 million on VPNs to Bypass its Own Censorship Laws

Since Ukraine was invaded, the Russian government & Kremlin-affiliated entities have spent big on the privacy tech.
Aaron Drapkin

A new report has revealed that the Russian Federal Treasury has spent almost $10 million on VPN technology since the invasion of Ukraine.

The news is somewhat ironic considering the demand for VPNs among the Kremlin/Kremlin-linked organizations rests in the Russian government's own, self-enforced censorship laws.

VPNs have a multitude of uses for businesses and individuals – and in 2022, you should take any chance you get to enhance your security and privacy simultaneously.

Info on Russian Spending Publicly Available

According to a report published by Top10VPN, since the invasion of Ukraine commenced in late February, over 1,500 websites have been blocked by the Russian government.

This includes, but is not limited to, international media outlets and social media platforms. However, government officials need to access these sites too, so have been forced to turn to the very tool their citizens are also using to circumvent their censorship rules.

Top10VPN used a VPN themselves to access the Russian government’s official federal procurement database – zakupki.gov.ru. They were able to confirm and analyze their findings “via open-source methods and external Russian translation services.”

Government Censorship is Costing The Government

Top10VPN unearthed “236 official contracts for VPN technology that have been made public since February 24. In total, the contracts are worth over 807 million rubles, or $9.8 million.”

The Federal Customs Service, for instance, has spent $906,926 on VPNs since February 24th, whilst the Main Directorate of the Ministry of the Interior of the Russian Federation (Krasnoyarsk Territory) spent $1,771,682 on the tech since the outbreak of war.

The main sectors purchasing VPN technology were Legislative, Information Technology & communications as well as healthcare and emergency services. Surprisingly, “Security & Defense” was only the sixth highest-spending sector.

Are VPNs Important and Does my Business Need one?

VPNs are vital tools used all around the world, particularly in countries like Russia with stringent censorship laws.

VPN demand increased by 2,692% in Russia after the invasion of Ukraine, though the tech was already popular among citizens in the country prior to this.

VPNs create an encrypted tunnel between your device and the internet, masking your IP address and subsequently decoupling your internet traffic from your device and identity. Tracking someone using a VPN is considerably harder than tacking someone without one.

Business VPNs work slightly differently. They will allow all your company’s staff to access your company's servers and cloud-based resources from outside of the office, wherever they are in the world – but crucially, in an encrypted and secure fashion.

Market-leading business VPNs like NordLayer have other uses too, including allowing you to manage the data privileges different team members have and monitor activity for security purposes.

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Aaron Drapkin is a Senior Writer at Tech.co. He has been researching and writing about technology, politics, and society in print and online publications since graduating with a Philosophy degree from the University of Bristol three years ago. As a writer, Aaron takes a special interest in VPNs and project management software. He has been quoted in the Daily Mirror, Daily Express, The Daily Mail, Computer Weekly, and the Silicon Republic speaking on various privacy and cybersecurity issues, and has articles published in Wired, Vice, Metro, The Week, and Politics.co.uk covering a wide range of topics.

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