back to article Russian demand for VPNs skyrockets by 2,692%

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 …

  1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    Pro tip. Quoting statistics to 4 significant figures doesn't make your press-releases look more credible. Just the opposite.

    1. anthonyhegedus Silver badge

      Yes

      "Approximately 28-fold increase" would be a better way of putin it

      1. wolfetone Silver badge

        Twevelty.

        1. Youngone Silver badge

          Eleventy-Twelve.

      2. Ken Hagan Gold badge

        I'm guessing the error bars here would struggle to support even "30-fold" as an appropriate summary.

    2. Philip Stott

      I'm quite prepared to accept that I'm being a bit thick, but here in the UK at least 2,692% is formatted with a single SD.

      Even if that comna was a European style decimal point it would still only be 3 SD?

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Not yet banned

    Given how incredibly easy some VPNs can be used, I'm really surprised they're not yet entirely banned from the Poutinstan.

    Is the new Führer not yet aware of this ?

    Can't be that difficult to block it entirely ...

    1. A Non e-mouse Silver badge

      Re: Not yet banned

      You can probably easily pick-out the IPSec & Wireguard based VPNs based on ports/protocols, but the SSL ones that run over port 443, et al are much harder to identify from normal HTTPS web traffic. (And don't forgot an awful lot of stuff is now shoe-horned to run over HTTPS so your heuristics have to be pretty good to pick out just VPN traffic.)

      1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

        Re: Not yet banned

        Ah! Ta for the hint. I hadn't appreciated that. Perhaps it is just as well that world+spouse ignored the politicians and spooks a few years ago and adopted https everywhere as a matter of principle. I don't suppose the politicians will be queuing up to say "sorry" and "thank you" though.

      2. rcxb1 Bronze badge

        Re: Not yet banned

        > the SSL ones that run over port 443, et al are much harder to identify from normal HTTPS web traffic.

        Actually not.

        If you ran some non-TLS protocol over port 443, it would be extremely easy to identify it as invalid traffic, and seeing lots of that traffic to an IP address would be reason enough to block/ban the server.

        Most (or perhaps all) of the port TLS-based VPNs try to use DTLS first, rather than plain TLS, (1) because the extra layer of TCP would greatly harm performance. Very easy to differentiate DTLS (udp) and TLS (tcp) traffic.

        Those who are running TLS-based VPNs could disable DTLS to the detriment of their customers to prevent the few regimes trying to identify VPN traffic, but that's just a start.

        None of the TLS-based VPN I'm aware of even try to prevent active probing from identifying them as such. It's very easy and effective to identify and block them. (2)

        (1)https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Datagram_Transport_Layer_Security#Applications

        (2)https://gitlab.com/openconnect/ocserv/-/issues/393

      3. dvvdvv

        Re: Not yet banned

        You can relatively easily deal with undesired SSL traffic by mandating the populace to have Roskomnadzor's root X.509 certs installed and running everything through DPI/SSL proxies. And drop (and flag) any traffic that is not decryptable by the proxies.

        Anyways, it all will become moot when Russian users run out of ways to pay for their VPNs and/or the backbone providers cut Russian ISPs from the Internet for non-payment or for "security considerations".

    2. Not Irrelevant

      Re: Not yet banned

      They're banned in China, people still use them anyway. It's really hard to ban VPNs.

  3. Forget It

    Isn't it all his troll farms trying to get back to work?

    VPN = Vladimir Putin Network?

  4. Aristotles slow and dimwitted horse

    Hmmm...

    Looking through their "top 5" I'm not so sure that Top10VPNs top list really takes privacy assurance seriously - over speed, number of global endpoints, and being able to un-geo-block your Netflix account. There are 2 in that list where it has been reported that have provided security agencies with user data, and one that was used by a criminal where he was identified and caught when the VPN in question dropped without him knowing, and had DNS leaks.

    Choosing a VPN is a minefield I know, but their top 5 list looks a bit "sponsored" to me.

    YMMV of course.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Obviously...

    Western media keeps harping on about how ordinary Russians are completely unaware about what's going on in Ukraine. In reality, they probably know a darn sight more than the talking heads!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Obviously...

      Western talking heads, like every talking head in the world, say whatever the producer tells them, nothing new here.

      1. DS999 Silver badge
        Facepalm

        Re: Obviously...

        Sure Vlad, it is just the same as Russia. No difference at all!

        Wake me when someone gets up behind the news desk on CNN or Fox or MSNBC with a sign that says "you're being lied to" - even though the penalty for doing that in the west would only be getting fired, whereas the penalty for the brave woman who did that on Russia's main news channel last night will be considerably greater. Not that we are likely to learn of her fate, since she was immediately hauled off by the police and will probably never be seen again unless the Russian people wise up and get rid of their wanna be Stalin.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Obviously...

          Yeah, right, you USians are complaining everyday that CNN, Fox and the rest are all a bunch of lying cunts, telling you whatever the reps/dems want to tell you but when a foreign government imposes its will on its national station that's a bad thing.

          Do you want a (somehow) impartial station? BBC comes to mind.

          And I'm not Vlad, I'm Igor :P

          1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

            Re: Obviously...

            From the right-side of the pond, having watched the likes of CNN, Fox, MSNBC and the like, they don't seem to do "news" as such. It seems to be primarily taking head opinion shows. Now, I could easily be wrong, what we get here may well be "International" versions of what they broadcast directly to the US viewer, but the impression the rest of the world gets is that they simply don't do actual "news" unless there's a big story going on and they put people "on the ground" to report back. Having said that, CNN has gone behind a paywall in the UK. They are included in the Sky satellite packages (I assume Sky are paying them now) but no longer on Cable or FreeSat. I'm not sure what their plan is there. I can't imagine anyone not using Sky choosing to pay to watch CNN. Their ad breaks were almost exclusively trailers for their own shows, so I guess they never managed to sell many ad slots and gave up on the UK market.

            1. DS999 Silver badge

              Re: Obviously...

              They are mostly "entertainment" but there is news content. They might report on "here's the latest in Ukraine" or "the Senate voted xxx" or "the Supreme Court rejected xxx" or "xxx was indicted for yyy" to give some facts and then have a discussion where a bunch of people give their opinions of what it means, what will happen next, etc.

              The main editorial control is exercised in terms of WHAT gets mentioned. On MSNBC you will hear the latest about Trump's legal woes, on Fox it is almost never mentioned. On MSNBC the Canada trucker convoy is not mentioned much, on Fox it was given wall to wall coverage. So the viewers will form an impression about what news is important based on how much coverage it gets, that's where the slant on the "news" portion comes in. That's true for all news though, on the network evening news, on BBC, everything - the decision of what news is important enough to put on the air and how much air time to give it matters at least as much as any slant you can put on it.

              With the war on Ukraine everyone has gone to pretty much full time coverage of that, and the amount of actual new news happening isn't enough for a 24x7 cable channel, so there tends to be a lot of recycled content and the same discussions happening over and over again.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Obviously...

          Just flip between CNN and Fox — they'll explain to you who between them is lying.

    2. Marty McFly Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Re: Obviously...

      You say that like it is a surprise. The people involved ALWAYS know more than the talking heads.

      Don't listen to the talking heads. They are not experts, although they try to play one on TV.

    3. Schultz
      Unhappy

      ...Russians ... probably know a darn sight more ...

      When I asked my grandmother about what she knew or believed in the days of the Third Reich, she answered "Oh, we were not very political and didn't to ask too many questions."

      If your choices are is to remain ignorant and innocent, to become knowledgeable and complicit, or to go to jail (or worse) -- many will choose ignorance. What would you do?

    4. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Re: Obviously...

      The sad fact is that the majority of Russians get their news from the TV and believe it. I was discussing this the other day with someone who is from Russia and is used to having difficult conversations with relatives there.

      Then again, as many studies have shown, people elsewhere are not that much better informed. Still, at least we have a choice of competing conspiracy theories!

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Facepalm

    It is all very well

    Quoting massive percentage increases, but unless we know the pre increase number of people using vpn’s those percentages mean nothing.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    There is no need to look behind curtain, Soviet media is best in world. Eat your turnip!

    1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Did you say turnip? Where can I get one? Gravel and moss is the best we can get.

  8. BeaucoupdeMalt
    Paris Hilton

    Pardon me

    2,7% or 2692%?

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Wider impact?

    Although the headline number looks big, it's a percentage, if the base level was tiny a 2700% increase is still a small number. If it means that 100 million Russians now use VPN, that would be interesting (and improbable) but I guess there's a global increase too as, for example, ex-pat Russians will be adopting VPN too, and maybe those in "concerned" bordering countries - Latvia, Finland etc. Is it enough to degrade overall internet speeds or access via VPN?

  10. Martin Summers

    And they know these figures how exactly? Where are they getting them from, otherwise I just call bullshit figures plucked from thin air. How would they ever begin to know how many VPNs are in use? If true, Putin would like a word.

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