Demand for VPNs Rises in Iran as Protests Continue, Researchers Say

Request virtual private network apps skyrocketed by more than 3,000% in Iran, researchers say, following attempts by Iranian authorities to block access to WhatsApp and Instagram in the country on September 21. The government’s latest censorship efforts come in response to the wave of protests continuing across the country over Mahsa Amini, 22, who died in custody of the morality police.

Independent Top10VPN researchers measured an overwhelming spike of over 3,000% in demand for VPNs, which are commonly used to circumvent internet censorship efforts. The researchers measured the peak from September 22 to October 3.

A simple 2-axis chart with an X axis, labeled "Date" which starts at ground zero on September 22 and ends on October 02.  The Y axis of the chart, labeled "Increase in VPN demand" starts at the zero point with 0% and, with increments of thousands of percent, peaks at 400%.  Values ​​over time indicate an extremely rapid increase, with the illustrative line rising from nearly 0% on September 22 to 3,000% on September 24.

A graph from Top10VPN researchers shows a daily increase in VPN demand in Iran compared to the average daily VPN demand over the 28 days leading up to September 21, 2022.

Top10VPN

“Demand for VPN services to bypass social media blocks soared 2,164% on September 22 compared to the previous 28 days. Demand for VPNs increased further in the following days, peaking at 3,082% more than before protests on September 26.” Top10VPN’s head of research, Simon Migliano, said in a research update this week.

Migliano said average daily demand for VPN services remained very high after the recent spike, with demand now 1,991% above the normal baseline.

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Margie D. Carlisle