vpn users

Each year we have more privacy violations and security breaches. And each year, VPN popularity grows with them. 

To keep track of all the changes, we decided to collect the most sought-after VPN statistics and put them under a single roof. Below, you’ll find the most recent information about VPN users, popularity, market size, and legality.

    How much do VPNs cost?

    The average cost of a VPN varies from company to company. Any product that belongs to more popular brands costs an average of $2.9 a month for their discounted 1-3 year deals. As far as monthly prices without discounts go, it averages to $10.7.

    Monthly price (no discount)
    Monthly price (from discounted yearly deals)
    Surfshark VPN
    IPVanish VPN
    Private Internet Access VPN
    TunnelBear VPN
    Norton Secure VPN
    Monthly average
    Yearly average

    *All prices were taken directly from each brand and compared based on their monthly and “best” deals terms.

    How many people use a VPN?

    People in the world
    Internet users
    VPN users
    7.88 billion
    5.17 billion
    1.2 billion

    There are nearly 8 billion people in the world and over 5 billion (65.6%) of them are internet users. Out of these, we estimate that there are over 1.2 billion (31% of all internet users) people who use VPNs.

    However, these numbers are approximate because they only account for countries where VPN market penetration is above 10%. Market penetration measures how much a service is being used compared to the total estimated market. So, the total number of VPN users is likely higher.

    That said, the majority (around 70%) of all VPN users opt for free VPN services. And free VPNs don’t offer online security – they’re overall very unsafe and sell their users’ data to maintain their services. This is rarely new information to anyone and yet such high numbers still persist, suggesting that free VPN user intent is not security but accessing geo-restricted content.

    Biggest VPN markets in the world by country

    The total VPN market size exceeds $43 billion across the world. These are the results only from countries with VPN penetration higher than 10%. So, the actual number is likely higher.

    What about the markets? Well, the top 3 biggest markets by country are all in Asia: India, China, and Indonesia. Why? We don’t really know, but our guess is that it’s due to two factors:

    1. High country populations.
    2. Government censorship in those regions.

    These two factors also suggest that VPNs aren’t going anywhere. The global population will only rise and, considering the number of data leaks, internet shutdowns, and hacks happening yearly, privacy will only decline. Considering this, it’s little surprise that the VPN market is projected at nearly $76 billion by 2027, nearly double to what it is today.

    How the interest in VPNs changed over the years

    VPNs have a peculiar relationship with popularity. If we look at global Google search volumes, the interest in VPNs peaked twice in the last two decades: in 2004 and 2019.

    So, what happened? VPNs started off as workplace tools. They allowed people to remotely access and protect their shared business resources. Recently, their popularity declined due to better and more convenient cloud solutions. So we see that the general interest in VPNs peaked in 2004 and then started to decline until 2012. 

    Around this time, the first VPNs for personal use were released. The privacy concerns were further fueled about a year later (June 2013) when Edward Snowden shared NSA documents with the public. 

    From this point onward, interest in VPNs grew where it jumped in 2019 and peaked in 2020.

    When did interest in VPNs peak?

    The interest in VPNs peaked in March 2020, with the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. The specific reasons for such a sudden increase are unknown. However, we can speculate that it was due to uncertainty and stress people had to endure, as the world suddenly became more dangerous.

    Additionally, as more and more countries were put under lockdown, people were forced to spend more time at home. Our lives became more virtual than ever, and so digital safety became a higher priority.

    Why do people use a VPN?

    A VPN is primarily a privacy tool, but it serves many functions. We wanted to find out the primary reasons why people use VPNs. So, we conducted an anonymous, post-purchase survey from our users, who identified the following reasons why they use a VPN:

    • Security (43%)
    • Streaming (26%)
    • Privacy (12%)
    • Accessing content (9%)
    • Travel (4%)
    • Gaming (3%)
    • Work (3%)

    The majority of people said they use a VPN for security and streaming purposes (69%).

    Interestingly, people in Taiwan and the Netherlands are twice less likely to use a VPN for security purposes than people in the US. In fact, out of all surveyed countries, the US respondents were concerned with security the most. But, considering the 2013 NSA leaks, American concern with security is more than justified.

    Read more about government tracking: Is the government watching me?

    How many cyberattacks happen each year in the US?

    It’s hard to say how many cyberattacks happen every year because not all of them are successful or reported. However, here’s how many recorded cyberattacks happened each year in the US since 2015 to 2020:

    Number of cybercrime victims in the US

    The US counted over 540k people who fell victim to cybercrime in 2020. In other words, 1481 people fell victim to cybercrime every day in 2020 compared to 657 in 2015.

    This is by far the largest number of successful cyberattacks in the country’s history (a 55% growth year over year). The reason for that is quite clear – COVID-19 has caused mass confusion and unrest, allowing hackers to monetize people’s fears.

    Are VPNs legal to use?

    VPNs are legal in most parts of the world. Only about 1% of internet users cannot legally use a VPN (although they are the ones who need it the most). However, 25% of the remaining internet users live in countries that limit VPN use (like China).

    So, where is VPN use illegal or restricted? Here’s a quick list of countries that ban or restrict VPNs:

    VPN legality status
    North Korea
    Heavily restricted
    Heavily restricted
    Heavily restricted
    Saudi Arabia

    What do VPN statistics tell us?

    From search interest about VPNs to the constantly expanding VPN market, we see a growing worry about individual privacy each year. People feel like they cannot trust organizations and governments to protect their data. A lot of the time, these institutions are the reasons people turn to privacy tools like Surfshark VPN and Incogni.com

    The projected growth of the VPN market suggests that things are unlikely to get better anytime soon. Our lives are becoming more digitalized, which causes the number of cyberthreats to grow. The solution? Use cybersecurity tools and form good browsing habits

    Our aim is to offer both. Feel free to check out Surfshark One – our comprehensive security suite for all devices. In addition, we have articles that will help you to stay safe online.

    Digital security starts with tools

    Say no to virtual tracking and cyberthreats

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