Citizens of Russia and Ukraine are trying to get around increasingly strict internet laws by utilizing VPNs in record numbers across both countries.
The Russian invasion of Ukraine has had a wide range of surprising consequences. Scores of tech companies have pulled out of the area in an effort to show solidarity with the Ukrainian people, leading to an inability to access services like Netflix, PayPal, and many others.
Subsequently, citizens of both countries have turned to Virtual Private Network (VPN) services in hopes of dodging the bans put in place by the government.
VPN Usage Is Way Up
According to research from Top10VPN, VPN usage is way up since the start of the conflict in Ukraine, particularly in the two countries involved. In Russia, the data shows that demand for VPN services peaked at a staggering 1,092% increase compared to pre-invasion numbers, as seen in the chart below. This is likely to do with the increasingly strict bans on foreign social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook, as well as the blocking of other media sources.
“Our analysis of Russia’s central register of blocked sites shows that the Kremlin has blocked over 200 news and financial sites since the invasion, including BBC News, Deutsche Welle and Voice of America Russian-language sites.”
In Ukraine, internet access has obviously been disrupted by the invasion of Russian forces, which has also pushed more and more Ukrainians to use VPNs. In fact, that data shows a similar increase, with demand increase peaking at 609% higher than the daily average in early February.
Why is VPN usage way up?
A virtual private network (VPN) service is designed to protect and encrypted your online activity, but it can also be used to surf the web from somewhere other than where you are. These services allow you change your geolocation on your device, so you can be online in the US, the UK, or pretty much anywhere else your VPN has servers.
Subsequently, when strict internet laws and Russian invasions impede your ability to access the web, a VPN can allow you to gain access to services that may have been banned or blocked in your country.
“Whenever authoritarian regimes around the world try to control the populace by disrupting internet access, people turn to Virtual Private Networks (VPN) services in order to circumvent restrictions,” read the research from Top10VPN.
Simply put, VPNs are designed to make internet access a little easier when things get hectic. However, there are also a few other perks to VPNs, including gaining access to different streaming libraries from foreign countries and getting deals on travel. You can even secure your business' sensitive information when your team works from home, a valuable tool for any company looking to provide hybrid work options for its employees.