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

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

MOSCOW, Feb 28 (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. read more

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Photos and videos were slow to load on Facebook, owned by Meta Platforms Inc (FB.O), and Twitter (TWTR.N), 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.

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