"What is VPN" searches grow by 81% amid COVID-19 pandemic
According to data collected by Atlas VPN, the number of Google searches for "What is VPN" increased by 81% worldwide. The frequency of this query was growing steadily over the first three weeks of March.
VPN, also known as Virtual Private Network, is a service that protects your online connections and hides your identity. By encrypting your traffic and hiding your IP addresses, a VPN ensures your browsing is safe from third parties tracking your online actions.
Atlas VPN acquired the numbers of "What is VPN" searches worldwide over the last nine weeks using Google Trends tool. Google Trends provides numbers that show search interest relative to the highest point on the chart for the given region and time. A value of 100 is the peak popularity for the term. While value of 50 means it is half as popular.
Google Trends provides numbers that show search interest relative to the highest point on the chart for the given region and time. A value of 100 is the peak popularity for the term. While value of 50 means it is half as popular.
Within the first five weeks - from January 26 to February 29 - the number of searches for "What is VPN" remained similar. Then, during the first two weeks of March, the number started increasing.
At first, the interest was growing rather slowly. The number of searches only increased by 9%, comparing the first weeks of March to one another. However, by March 21, the number of "What is VPN" searches suddenly skyrocketed. It increased by 81% compared to the first week of March.
Interest in services by region
Atlas VPN gathered and analyzed how frequently the term "What is VPN" was searched on Google in the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, and United Arab Emirates over the last nine weeks.
In the US, the interest in VPNs has been growing steadily since the end of January. During the second week of March, it increased by approximately 16%, compared to March 1-7. By March 21, the number peaked, increasing by somewhat around 88%, compared to the first week of March.
Meanwhile, in Canada, the number of "What is VPN" queries started rising from the last week of February. Over the next month, the number was growing steadily. It peaked over the fourth week of March (22-28), increasing by approximately 156%.
Reports also show the interest in VPN services in the United Kingdom started growing within the first week of March. The number of searches increased by 24% comparing the first two weeks of March between one another. It suddenly peaked by the third week of March, growing by around 104% in comparison to March 1-7.
Counting from January 26, the number of "What is VPN" queries was fluctuating in Australia. From February 16 to February 29, it rose by approximately 61%, then started decreasing. By March 21, it had increased by somewhat around 170%, counting from the first week of March.
Lastly, in the United Arab Emirates, the interest in VPNs was changing dramatically throughout the nine weeks. In the first week of March, it reached the lowest number of "What is VPN" queries registered by Google Trends.
Then, it suddenly started growing: comparing the first week (March 1-7) to the fourth one (March 22-28), there was approximately a 354% increase in the number of searches.
Looking at the results, the interest in VPN services in different countries was changing inconsistently. But, the numbers in all the mentioned countries peaked during the last two weeks of the month, from March 15 to 28.
Interest in VPN services increase amid COVID-19 quarantine
People staying home and working remotely explain the sudden interest in VPN services. To allow employees to access office files remotely, companies have to open internal resources. Hachers can steal this sensitive information.
Besides that, people are accessing company files through their home networks. Typically, home networks are not as secure as office ones. With these two situations combined, cybercriminals can quickly get onto employees' devices to steal confidential information, such as passwords or banking information.
One of the ways to prevent a cybercriminal attack is by using a VPN. VPN can encrypt the information you send and receive, making it nearly impossible for anyone to get their hands on your data. Even if a cybercriminal were somehow to intercept your data, they would not be able to read it, since the encrypted data would look like gibberish.
It is possible that employees who are not familiar with the VPN technology heard about it as something that protects you while you work remotely. This resulted in a sudden increase in VPNs, particularly amid COVID-19 quarantine.
Cybersecurity Researcher and Publisher at Atlas VPN. Interested in cybercrime, online security, and privacy-related topics.