A few years ago, very few people knew what VPNs were. Technology is advancing at a very high rate, and what is new today will be old news tomorrow. Cases of hacking have risen steadily over the years as hackers use advanced hacking techniques.
What is a VPN?
A VPN (Virtual Private Network) is a superb tool that protects you while you browse the internet. A VPN uses a method called tunneling, where it creates a secure tunnel between your devices and the internet. Using a VPN, you can log into sites via virtual locations, with the VPN hiding both your IP and physical address, and allowing you to browse anonymously.
A VPN also encrypts all your communication, both in and out your device using an encryption standard called the AES256. If you often login to the internet via public Wi-Fi, you are at potential risk of being hacked. Hackers eavesdrop on unsecured public networks and steal your data. A VPN puts a barrier and prevents your sensitive data such as usernames and passwords from being stolen.
Most VPN services charge a fee, while some are free, which you should be wary about. The justification of the free service is selling your data to third parties. To gauge which VPN service you should subscribe to, use a free trial period of VPN software, which is offered by most VPN providers.
How was the VPN usage around the world in 2018?
Lately, VPN usage globally has dramatically improved. Most internet users use the VPN apps for various reasons, with some using it to access entertainment websites that are blocked in their countries and others for security and privacy.
According to a survey in 2018 by GlobalWebIndex, an audience analytic platform, the use of VPNs in Asian Pacific countries is higher due to their need for accessing entertainment sites. In North America, the usage of VPNs is much lower, and their primary motivation is the need to browse anonymously.
Data from GlobalWebIndex further indicates that at least 25% of internet users have utilized a VPN app recently, with Latin American and Asia Pacific countries having higher usage than North America and Europe.
How is the Current VPN Usage 2021?
According to GlobalWebIndex in 2021, VPN use is prominent in the Middle East, Africa and Asia, mostly due to censorship and repressive governments. The other reason is internet users in these regions are younger, hip, affluent and urban and are more digital-savvy.
It is clear that the heaviest users are in countries where digital repression and censorship are the heaviest, but where the use of VPNs is legal. For example, Indonesia, which is the highest user at 61%, had the country’s authorities increase censorship during the country’s 2021 presidential elections.
In India, which is at 45% usage, the country leads globally in internet shutdowns and forces the countries ISPs to block adult content on the internet.
In the West, Netherlands leads in usage at 76%, with Canada having the least VPN usage at 39%. The growth was highest in Australia and the Netherlands, yet these countries have very high digital freedom levels. This growth might have something to do with the introduction of surveillance laws in these two countries since 2017.
Who are the Biggest VPN Users?
According to the GlobalWebIndex report, male usage topped at 36% while female usage was capped at 26%. Postgraduate degree holders stood at 39%, university degree at 34%, college students at 34%, school-goers up to age 18 at 29% and under 16 school goers at 21%.
Males are at most 40% more likely to utilize a VPN more than females. 36% of men, which is more than a third of the total internet users, used a VPN in the month before the survey, compared to female users who fell at 26%. Higher-income earners are more likely to use a VPN, who are most likely the affluent, and who travel more often.
The younger and tech-savvy generations also use VPNs, and it is apparent that VPN usage increases with the level of education. The report also identified that VPNs were a hit with baby boomers, with their use rising since 2017 by 37%.
Why do People Use VPNs?
The report showed that people use VPNs for different reasons in the U.S and U.K markets.
- For protection on public Wi-Fi networks- 51%
- Anonymous browsing- 44%
- Secure communication- 37%
- To access blocked sites- 23%
- To access sites blocked at work-22%
- To avoid ISPs speed limitations or bandwidth throttling- 21%
- To browse anonymously-20%
- Access censored content-18%
Statistics show that VPN usage is growing, in both countries with digital freedom and those without. The dynamics for using VPNs vary, but chief among them is privacy and anonymity, security, as well as bypassing geo-restrictions placed by governments. In the next five years, the use of VPNs will be astronomical. Only time will tell how much.