Research by Top10VPN, which regularly publishes data on virtual private newtork (VPN) usage around the world, has highlighted unprecedented demand in Russia and Ukraine.
VPNs, of course, create private tunnels that obscure what someone does online and allows a connected machine to appear as though it’s located in a different country. This explains the massive surge, especially in Russia, where access to popular social media sites and news services have been cut off.
“VPN demand was resurgent in Russia going into the weekend of March 12-13 as the Russian authorities banned Instagram in retaliation for parent company Meta permitting calls to violence against the Russian military to remain on its platforms,” Top10VPN’s Simon Migliano wrote.
Russian VPN usage peaked (as of publication) on March 14, with a 2,692 percent increase over average daily demand (measured in the week leading up to the invasion of Ukraine). Usage had been rising toward those numbers for several days, with the three days prior logging demand peaks of 1,394, 1,814, and 2,088 percent.
Before the recent activity, which may have been fueled by Russia’s Instagram ban, numbers were still on the rise. The ban of Facebook and Twitter on March 4 caused a jump of 1,000 percent, and internet speed throttling in late February led to a spike as well.
Ukrainian use of VPNs peaked at 609 percent on March 2, toward the beginning of the conflict. VPN demand in Ukraine rose by 544 percent in the days leading up to Russia’s invasion, and more recently dropped, though still far above baseline at 389 percent increased demand over the weeks prior to the war.
“Whenever authoritarian regimes around the world try to control the populace by disrupting internet access, people turn to Virtual Private Networks in order to circumvent restrictions,” Migliano said. ®