How the pandemic affected VPN providers

VPN providers record traffic surges, as more and more companies are transferring employees “to the remote”, but some countries are tightening their control over virtual private networks.

A photo – Alina grubnyak – Unsplash

VPN provider traffic is growing

Rob Smith, director of R&D at Gartner, has dedicated his research work to Remote Access VPN Is Dead for the past few months. But on according to specialist, now he will have to come up with a new name. Due to the epidemic, more and more organizations are moving employees to telecommuting. So did Twitter and Square, Facebook, apple Oracle, Google, Microsoft and other companies. As a result, the load on VPN services that are used to connect to corporate networks has increased dramatically in the world.

In Iran, Atlas VPN traffic increased by 38%. For Russia and the USA, this indicator made up 36 and 56% respectively. One of the highest jumps was recorded in Italy, which became the focus of the coronavirus in Europe – there, in the second week of March, traffic grew by 112%. In NordVPN too celebratethat the load on their systems on average increased by 165%. Most new users live in the Netherlands, Austria, Canada, Belgium and Denmark.

But there is a problem

Many VPN services were not ready for the influx of users. American company Pulse Security received five times more requests from customers asking for additional capacities for private networks. By estimated experts, it may take several hours or even days to expand bandwidth. The big players weren’t spared the problem either – for example, Amazon was not sure that their corporate infrastructure could handle the load. Therefore, in early March, the IT department asked staff Connect to the VPN briefly to test the system.

A photo – Su san lee – Unsplash

Information security experts are also worried that the growth in the number of VPN users, however paradoxical it may sound, will damage network security. In the software products that different providers work with, specialists from the National Cybersecurity Center of Great Britain (NCSC) discovered a number of critical vulnerabilities. They allow attackers to steal authorization data and infiltrate a corporate private network. Although the corresponding patches are already available, it is likely that not all VPN providers have installed them. And an increase in the volume of traffic passing through their services can open up new attack vectors.

In an attempt to smooth sharp edges in NCSC made a list IB recommendations for those who work remotely. Since many have not previously worked outside the office and have not previously encountered virtual private networks. But while government organizations in some countries support VPN in every possible way, others, on the contrary, use the epidemic as an excuse to tighten regulation of such services.

Who tightens regulation

Late last year in China have accepted new law – MLPS 2.0 (Cybersecurity Muti-Level Protection Scheme). It gives law enforcement authorities unlimited access to all data that lies on Chinese servers and transmitted over Chinese networks. Law also obliges residents of the country (and foreign companies) use virtual private networks that have received government accreditation.

A photo – lwzee – Unsplash

In early January, law enforcement arrested a student who sold VPN services to bypass “Golden shield“. The country’s authorities also demanded from Apple remove VPN applications from the Chinese App Store.

MLPS 2.0 has already been put into practice to limit the spread of news about coronavirus. Multiple VPN Providers notedthat have difficulty connecting in the country. By given Greatfire’s VPN monitoring resource in China over the past two months, service performance has slowed significantly – in some cases, the speed has dropped by 65%.

In general, such activities of the authorities are seriously criticized by the population and international companies. The hope remains that politicians will reconsider the decision and amend the legislation.

What we write about in our corporate blog:

How to configure the cloud for remote work
How to protect a virtual server on the Internet
Screening electronic devices at the border – a need or violation of human rights?
How to remove yourself from most popular services

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