More than 5 million Russians have installed a VPN to bypass sanctioned blocking of services and censorship of content

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In Russia, over the past 2 weeks, there have been massive blockages of news resources, which greatly hindered citizens’ access to alternative sources of information. As a result, the demand for VPN solutions to circumvent such bans and blockages has sharply increased.

The need to use a VPN has intensified even more because companies such as Netflix, TikTok and many others have stopped working in the country.

Demand for Facebook doubled after the start of the military operation

Before we delve into VPN, let’s take a brief look at why Russia blocked Facebook.

The number of downloads increased from 12,000 a day to more than 22,000 on Friday, when Facebook was officially blocked.

Russian citizens circumvent censorship with VPN

At the moment, VPN applications make up the majority of the most popular applications in Russia in App Store and Google Play .

The picture below shows the downloads of the top 10 VPN apps in each store.

The cumulative number of downloads of the top 10 apps in the App Store and Google Play began to grow on February 24. The number of downloads grew from an average of 16,000 per day to more than 700,000 by Wednesday.

For 10 days from February 24 to March 5, the top 10 VPN applications in the App Store and Google Play, according to the most conservative estimates, were installed by more than 5 million people.

The most popular VPN applications

Most VPN applications look almost the same and are mostly not tied to any brand, which means that users just want to be able to browse the Internet, and they don’t care how. The apps with the most downloads are the ones that appear first in search results (thanks to App Store optimization), and more well-known brands such as Cloudflare, Nord and Turbo VPN are less popular, as they are at the bottom of the list.

The most downloaded VPN app in the App Store and Google Play, Secure VPN, has been downloaded more than 1.5 million times. VPN Proxy Master, the second most popular VPN application in two stores and the leader in the App Store, has been downloaded by more than a million new users, and this one is growing every hour.

Here are the final figures for each store by March 9:

  • App Store: 1.6 million,

  • Google Play: 3.7 million

However, do not be happy. There are many ways to block VPN operation in the country, both technically and “legally”. And there is always an option to completely block the App Store and Google Play. According to our estimates, technical ways of blocking VPN will be implemented in the coming days.

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