Russia is spending big on VPN

Illustration of the word VPN on a circuit board
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Since the start of its invasion of Ukraine, Russian government agencies have been spending big on Virtual Private Network (VPN) services to circumvent internet censorship enforced by - the Russian government.

Top10VPN recently took a closer look at Russia’s official public procurement database, managed by the Federal Treasury. Ironically enough, it was inaccessible from the UK, to the team used a VPN to access the data.

The site found Russian government firms have signed 236 contracts for VPN technology since the beginning of the invasion on February 24 worth a total of more than 807 million rubles, translating to around $9.8 million.

Share your thoughts on Cybersecurity and get a free copy of the Hacker's Manual 2022

Share your thoughts on Cybersecurity and get a free copy of the Hacker's Manual 2022. Help us find how businesses are preparing for the post-Covid world and the implications of these activities on their cybersecurity plans. Enter your email at the end of this survey to get the bookazine, worth $10.99/£10.99.

What’s more, state institutions and companies regulated by public procurement law based in Moscow spent 196 million rubles, or $2.4 million - more than any other region. Krasnoyarsk, with $1.8 million in spending, was the second-biggest region.

Big spenders

Breaking the data down by sector, the researchers found legislative agencies spending most ($2.3 million), followed by IT and communications ($1.9 million), and healthcare and emergency services ($1.5 million).

The war on Ukraine is currently being led on two separate fronts - one physical, and one digital. In the cyber-realm, besides constant distributed denials of service, ransomware infections, leaks, and other forms of attacks, there is a media/propaganda war. 

In a bid to keep its citizens away from western media and the western view on things, the Russian government blocked over 1,500 websites. Many citizens in the country took to VPN services to circumvent the blocks and access non-Russian websites, resulting in the demand for VPN apps spiking 2,692% compared to pre-war levels.

Russia responded with a continuous effort to block VPN traffic in the country. Whether or not it will go all the way, especially knowing that government employees use VPNs as well, remains to be seen.

Sead Fadilpašić

Sead is a seasoned freelance journalist based in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina. He writes about IT (cloud, IoT, 5G, VPN) and cybersecurity (ransomware, data breaches, laws and regulations). In his career, spanning more than a decade, he’s written for numerous media outlets, including Al Jazeera Balkans. He’s also held several modules on content writing for Represent Communications.