Demand for VPNs in Russia, Ukraine leaps as internet control tightens


FILE PHOTO: The coat of arms of Russia is reflected in a laptop screen in this picture illustration taken February 12, 2019. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov/File Photo

MOSCOW (Reuters) - As Russian and Ukrainian websites fall victim to cyber attacks and Moscow restricts access to some foreign social media, internet users across both countries have turned to online tools to help circumvent the blocks.

Demand for Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) that encrypt data and obscure where a user is located has soared, data from monitoring firm Top10VPN showed, peaking 354% higher in Russia on Sunday when compared to the daily average from Feb. 16-23.

Russia, which calls its actions in Ukraine a "special operation", invaded its neighbour on Feb. 24, attacking from land, sea and air. At home, it is battling to control the narrative, threatening restrictions on foreign and local media that stray from its official version of events.

Photos and videos were slow to load on Facebook, owned by Meta Platforms Inc, and Twitter, both of which have been targeted by state communications regulator Roskomnadzor.

"VPN demand surged in Russia as authorities restricted Facebook and Twitter over the weekend in a bid to control the flow of information from its invasion of Ukraine," Top10VPN said.

Russia banned several VPNs last year, but has failed to block them entirely, as part of a wider campaign critics say stifles internet freedom.

In Ukraine, Russian hackers were blamed for a spate of cyberattacks that briefly knocked Ukrainian banking and government websites offline, days before the invasion. Russia denied involvement.

VPN demand in Ukraine began noticeably increasing on Feb. 15 in light of cyberattacks, Top10VPN said, and skyrocketed after the invasion, with demand peaking 424% higher than the daily average in the first half of February.

On Monday, the websites of several Russian media outlets were hacked, with their regular sites replaced by an anti-war message and calls to stop President Vladimir Putin's invasion.

(Reporting by Reuters in Moscow; Editing by Toby Chopra)

Article type: metered
User Type: anonymous web
User Status:
Campaign ID: 1
Cxense type: free
User access status: 3
Subscribe now to our Premium Plan for an ad-free and unlimited reading experience!

   

Next In Tech News

TikTok ‘5 to 9’ trend shows�quiet quitting hasn’t killed hustle culture
Elon Musk’s Twitter deal has employees asking: Should I stay or should I go?
Elon Musk’s everything app ‘X’ sounds a lot like China’s WeChat
Roller coaster hits and drags woman looking for phone on track, Australia fair says
Lebanese solar energy scams hold back push for green power
Fraud, scam cases increasing on Zelle, US Senate report finds
Elon Musk offers to close Twitter buyout deal at original price
How Meta and Twitter plan to compete with TikTok in the realm of video
With Musk bid back on, Twitter employees 'just along for the ride'
The Try Guys release first video since Ned Fulmer's firing. Here's what they said

Others Also Read