105+ VPN Statistics and Trends 2024 – Usage Rates, Demographics, and Issues

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VPN statistics can be extremely useful for understanding the online privacy and security landscape.

Recent attacks have sparked conversations on security and pushed providers to do better. This guide dives into the latest Virtual Private Network (VPN) statistics, exploring why people use VPNs, the challenges they face, what the best VPN providers offer, current VPN market share and adoption rates, and steps taken to improve VPN security.

VPN Statistics Highlights

  • Among the end users of VPNs in June 2023, 70% used VPNs daily or almost daily (Zscaler, 2023).
  • As of 2023, Cisco AnyConnect was the most used VPN among companies (Datanyze, 2023).
  • In the first half of 2023 (H1 2023), VPN downloads reached 130 million (Atlas VPN, 2023).
  • As of June 2023, 37% of organizations had plans to replace VPN with a ZTNA solution in the near future (Zscaler, 2023).
  • In 2023, 45% of respondents said their organization experienced at least one VPN attack in the past 12 months (Zscaler, 2023).

VPN Market Size

In recent years, VPN use has surged, particularly with people engaging in the work-from-home trend. VPN statistics below dive into the market share and adoption rates, highlighting the prevailing attitudes towards VPN usage and how it varies regionally.

The worldwide market for VPNs is worth $45bn, with the US VPN market valued at approximately $16.5bn. The global market is expected to expand to $137.7bn by 2030, with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 15.1%.

Around the world:

  • China, the world’s second-largest economy, is predicted to see a VPN market size of $21.5bn by 2030, following a CAGR of 17.6% to 2030
  • Japan and Canada are anticipated to see growth rates of 11.9% and 12.5%
  • Germany is projected to see a growth rate of approximately 11.9% CAGR

VPN Market Share and Adoption

While VPNs are a big hit for secure business tasks, some are held back by cost and setup issues.

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In 2022, 88% of Americans were familiar with VPNs, up from 72% in 2020. However, 61% of people didn’t use VPNs or were unaware of them (Security, 2022).

VPN statistics
Awareness of virtual private networks (Security.org)

In the same year, VPNs remained the main means of remote application access (59% of global respondents). It was followed by virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) (55%) and cloud-based single sign-on/SSO or access management (51%) (Thales Group, 2022).

Among the end users of VPNs in June 2023, 70% used VPNs daily or almost daily, highlighting their reliance on this technology for regular business tasks. Including those who used VPNs 4-5 times a week, 77% of people used VPNs for work nearly every day.

Notably, no one reported using VPNs less than once a month (Zscaler, 2023).

As of 2023, these were the market shares for the top most used VPNs among companies:

  • Cisco AnyConnect – used by 2,467 companies, 29% of the market
  • CiscoVPN – 2,125 companies, 25%
  • Juniper VPN – 887, 10%
  • Citrix Gateway – 670, 8%
  • OpenVPN – 583, 7%
  • Check Point VPN – 228, 3%
  • NCP IPsec VPN – 195, 2%
  • Nortel Contivity VPN – 162, 2%
  • Microsoft Azure ExpressRoute – 124, 1%
  • AT&T VPN – 112, 1%
VPN statistics
Top Virtual Private Networks Technologies (Datanyze, 2023)

Attitudes Towards VPN Usage

In 2022, over half of Americans (59%) stated that they didn’t use a VPN for personal use because they don’t need it. Over a fifth (22%) said that it’s too expensive, and nearly the same share (21%) expressed that it’s too much trouble to set up.

Meanwhile, a fifth (20%) said that they were unsure of the benefits.

Furthermore, 7% said that they don’t trust that they’re secure, 3% said that they can’t access the websites they’d like to, and 1% said that it was speed issues (Security, 2022).

In 2022, among those undecided about the need for a VPN, only 7% stated that they’d get one in 2023. Meanwhile, over half (52%) said that they might, while 41% said that they wouldn’t.

VPN statistics
Do you plan to get a VPN for personal use? (Security.org)

Regional Adoption of VPNs

In 2022, VPN statistics show that people living on the Pacific coast accounted for 1 in 5 VPN users in the U.S. (20%). The South Atlantic states followed (16%), and then the East North Central states (13%).

However, there was a significant number of users distributed relatively evenly across all 50 states (Security, 2023).

In the first half of 2023 (H1 2023), VPN downloads reached 130 million.

The highest adoption rates per country were (the share of the country’s population who downloaded VPN services in H1 2023):

  • Singapore – 19%
  • UAE – 17%
  • Qatar – 15%

Although there are restrictions on VPNs in the UAE, using a VPN is only illegal if it’s used to commit a crime or facilitate a crime.

On the other hand, the lowest adoption rates were in:

  • Venezuela – 0.4%
  • Japan – 0.5%
  • Colombia – 0.6%

(Atlas VPN, 2023)

VPN Users – Demographics

VPN usage among Americans rose from 24.7% in 2020 to 33% in 2023. In terms of demographics:

  • In 2022, more males than females were using a VPN. While 57% of males used VPNs for personal use, only 43% of females did.
  • The people most likely to use a VPN had incomes between $25,000 and $49,999 (with 21% of respondents in this income bracket).
  • Individuals aged between 45 and 60 were the most likely age cohort to use VPNs (28% of respondents) (Security, 2023).
  • Nearly a third of VPN users (32%) possess postgraduate degrees, and another 28% have university degrees.
  • More than half of VPN users reported using iOS devices (52%), while slightly more than a third (37%) reported using Android devices.
  • VPNs were less used on desktop devices – only 6% of Windows users and 3% of MacOS users reported using a VPN.

In fact, 61% of mobile users and 59% of computer users used their VPNs at least once a week.

The discrepancy between mobile and desktop users is probably because phones are used on the go, meaning that one might connect them to public Wi-Fi. On the other hand, laptops and PCs are generally used at home, where a VPN might be less crucial (Security, 2023).

Why Do People Use VPNs?

In 2022, nearly a fifth (17%) solely used VPNs for personal reasons, while slightly over a tenth (13%) used VPNs for business only. Only 9% used VPNs for both business and personal reasons.

In 2021, the usage rate of VPNs was nearly identical (Security, 2022).

The top reasons for VPN usage in 2022 were the following:

  • General security – 55% of respondents
  • General privacy – 50%
  • Job requirement – 34%
  • Log on to secure corporate networks – 31%
  • Public Wi-Fi protection – 24%
  • Hide internet activity from ISP – 23%
  • Access out-of-market streaming media – 22%
  • Increased protection when shopping online – 20%
  • Hide activity from search engines – 17%
  • Torrenting – 12%
  • Bypass government or institutional restrictions – 10%
  • Avoid cookies – 9%
  • Anonymity for whistle-blowing, activism, or journalism work – 5%
  • Secure VOIP phone calls – 2%

It’s perhaps unsurprising that privacy and security are the top reasons cited for the use of VPNs. In the US, 86% of people believe more personal information is collected than is necessary, and nearly two-thirds of Americans feel threats to their personal data are escalating faster than businesses can keep up.

A large majority feel they have minimal control over how companies (73%) and the government (79%) use their data, and few have confidence their data will be used responsibly.

Although the first two reasons named above – security and privacy – had nearly identical shares compared to 2021, using VPN for work (both as a job requirement and to log on to secure corporate networks) decreased significantly.

This decline is due in part to updated infrastructures (including ZTNAs and cloud-based databases) and the return of American workers to their offices.

VPN statistics
Top reasons for VPN use (Security.org)

The use of VPNs to secure public Wi-Fi connections fell by 10% in 2022. This decrease is partly due to fewer people working remotely, better HTTP encryption, and the fast growth of 5G networks, which reduce the need for third-party connections (Security, 2022).

Bypassing online content restrictions and geo-blocking are factors that are also commonly named as reasons for using VPNs, and this tallies with increasing digital censorship.

  • 17 countries in Europe, including Belarus and Turkey, have imposed restrictions on political media
  • 32 countries in Asia have severe censorship for news media, with just two exceptions on the continent in Taiwan and Timor-Leste
  • 42 countries across Europe and Asia have banned, blocked, or shut down torrenting sites
  • Social media is restricted in Belarus, Spain, Turkey, and Ukraine in Europe and in 37 African nations – and it’s blocked entirely in Eritrea and Ethiopia

Personal VPN Usage

In 2022, the top reasons for personal VPN use were as follows:

  • General privacy – 59% of respondents
  • General security – 57%
  • Hide activities from ISP, search engines, etc. – 44%
  • Access streaming content – 37%
  • Public Wi-Fi protection – 28%

(Security, 2022)

VPN Usage in Organizations

In June 2023, organizations reported using VPN most commonly to provide access to remote employees (84% of organizations), followed by connecting multiple sites (40%) and providing access for third parties (24%).

Other purposes included on-campus access (20%), IoT/OT device connectivity (14%), and access for unmanaged devices (11%).

VPN statistics
What is the primary purpose for your organization’s use of VPN? (ZScaler)

Meanwhile, in 2022, the top reasons for business VPN usage were as follows:

  • Workplace policy/requirements – 70% of respondents
  • Access secure corporate networks – 62%
  • General security – 40%
  • General privacy – 18%
  • Public Wi-Fi protection – 11%

(Security, 2022)

Organizational Plans for VPN Usage

As of 2022, only 21% of organizations aimed to cut down on VPN users, while a larger group (48%) planned to increase users on their existing VPNs.

Positively, over half (57%) aimed to strengthen the security checks on their current VPN setups (Thales Group, 2022).

However, there is now the adoption of Zero Trust Network Access (ZTNA) solutions to consider. This marks a significant shift in modern cybersecurity strategies.

As of June 2023, 37% of organizations had plans to replace VPN with a ZTNA solution in the near future (Zscaler, 2023). As many as 92% organizations are at least considering a zero-trust strategy or have progressed further.

Concerns and Issues with VPNs

VPNs offer a secure way to surf the web, but they come with their share of problems for both everyday users and companies. Users often face slow internet speeds, especially with free VPN versions that typically also show a lot of ads.

Paid VPNs have issues, too, like inconsistent speeds and tricky login processes.

Companies aiming for smooth operations bump into VPN troubles that disrupt work and cost extra to fix. Also, some countries restrict VPN use, adding more challenges to the mix.

Security worries are part of the VPN package. Users fear unauthorized access, phishing, and ransomware attacks. And now, with tech giants like Google offering VPN services, the real essence of VPNs – keeping our data private – seems under threat.

The VPN statistics below dig into performance issues, global usage restrictions, and safety concerns.

User Issues with VPN Performance

While free VPNs appeal to users on a budget, their performance isn’t always reliable or secure. In 2022, around 52% of free users experienced at least one issue – such as slow internet speed, ad problems (too many ads or ad glitches), or difficulty streaming/torrenting.

This is the breakdown of the people who had issues:

  • Slow internet speed – 39% of free users
  • Ad problems (too many ads or ad glitches) – 13%
  • Difficulty streaming/torrenting – 12%
  • Bugs (software issues) – 10%
  • Battery life problems – 7%
  • Identity theft or privacy concerns – 3%
  • Viruses and malware attempts – 2%

However, the number of users who suffered slower internet speeds on free VPNs dropped 12% in the year after 2021, suggesting these free services have improved the user experience they deliver. This improvement may also relate to the increase in internet speed testing tools (Security, 2022).

For all types of VPNs (paid or free), in June 2023, the most common issues reported by users when accessing applications via VPN were slow connection speed (25% of issues), problems with connection drops (21%), and inconsistent user experience across different devices/platforms (16%).

Other reported issues included complex or cumbersome VPN authentication processes (14%), inability to connect to VPN or to access applications altogether (11%), and difficulty accessing applications due to authentication issues (10%) (Zscaler, 2023).

Organizational Issues with VPN Performance

In June 2023, 72% of organizations expressed that they were slightly to extremely dissatisfied with their VPN service. Only 28% said that they were not dissatisfied at all.

VPN statistics
How dissatisfied are your users with their VPN experience? (ZScaler)

The most significant issues that organizations faced with their VPN services in June 2023 were:

  • Poor user experience (such as slow connections, frequent disconnections, etc.) – 32% of respondents
  • High costs (infrastructure, licensing, maintenance, etc.) – 14%
  • Difficulty integrating with other systems and services – 13%
  • Complex management and administration – 12%
  • Scalability and flexibility limitations – 11%
  • Insufficient security and compliance – 7%
  • Inadequate support for remote work and collaboration – 4%
  • Other – 7%

(Zscaler, 2023)

The biggest problems in managing infrastructure in June 2023 were:

  • Walking the tightrope of VPN performance and user experience – 22% of respondents
  • Constantly troubleshooting VPN connectivity and stability issues – 20%
  • Playing catchup with frequent VPN software patches and updates – 18%
  • Juggling VPN compatibility with various devices, operating systems, and applications – 16%
  • Navigating the complexity and effort involved in scaling VPN infrastructure – 10%
  • Bearing the burden of increasing VPN infrastructure costs – 9%

(Zscaler, 2023)

Global Restrictions on VPN Usage

As of April 2023, out of 195 examined countries and territories, 15 (8%) are confirmed to have imposed restrictions on VPN use either presently or historically.

These included Egypt, Uganda, Tanzania, China, India, Iran, Iraq, Myanmar, Oman, Pakistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan, the UAE, Belarus, and Russia. Among these, only Uganda has lifted VPN restrictions.

VPN statistics
Worldwide restrictions on VPN use (Surfshark)

Collectively, these regulations impact 3.7 billion individuals (47% of the global population).

Among the 14 nations with ongoing VPN restrictions, 10 (71%) are located in Asia, affecting over two-thirds (72%) of the continent’s population (Surfshark, 2023).

Six Asian countries enforce complete bans on VPN usage – China, Iran, Iraq, Myanmar, North Korea, and Turkmenistan.

VPN Safety

VPN statistics for June 2023 show that many people (88%) were worried that a VPN might risk their security. A notable 22% were ‘very’ or ‘extremely’ concerned, showing a high level of concern about VPNs being possible security threats.

VPN statistics
VPNs and security concerns (ZScaler)

The same survey revealed that most people (90%) were worried about third-parties getting into their networks via VPN access. Some 35% were ‘very’ or ‘extremely’ worried, showing that third-party VPN access is a big concern.

Almost half of the people (49%) were worried about phishing attacks, and 40% were worried about ransomware attacks through their organization’s VPN. These attacks usually fool users into giving away private information or using harmful software to lock systems until a ransom is paid.

Other concerns included:

VPN statistics
Concerns about cyberattacks exploiting VPN vulnerabilities (ZScaler)

Access to VPN technology is simplified as providers blend networks with consumer tech. For instance, Google now bundles free VPN with its cloud storage subscription and preinstalls it on Pixel 7 phones.

However, consumers should note a possible conflict of interest. Though VPNs aim to shield our data from Big Tech, having major data collectors like Google-run VPNs could pose concerns.

In fact, in 2022, 29% of Americans stated that they would not trust a mobile VPN provided by Google. On the other hand, 45% stated that they would be likely or very likely to trust it (Security, 2022).

VPN Vulnerabilities

VPN security vulnerabilities
Attacks exploiting VPN vulnerabilities (ZScaler)

Since 2021, more than 300 VPN vulnerabilities have been disclosed, with 119+ vulnerabilities revealed in 2023.

At least 16 vulnerabilities are known to have been exploited, and VPN vulnerabilities were projected to rise by 44% by the end of 2023 compared to the previous two years (CISA 2023).

Cybercrime Statistics and the Relevance of VPNs

The sharp increase in cybercrime highlights the urgent need for VPN usage to improve online safety.

VPNs serve as digital guards, helping to block unauthorized access and protect user data from common threats like fraud and identity theft.

This section explores the worrying numbers around cybercrime, how VPNs play a crucial role in boosting cybersecurity, and the ongoing fight between cyber criminals and VPN cybersecurity.

In 2022, the Consumer Sentinel Network recorded over 5.1 million reports that encompassed fraud (46% of all reports), identity theft (22%), and other (33%).

This highlights a pressing concern regarding online safety – with fraud and identity theft so prevalent, the necessity for VPNs becomes evident. VPNs are instrumental in preventing unauthorized access and securing user data, thereby potentially reducing the $8.8 billion lost to fraud in 2022 (FTC, 2022).

In the same year, the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center received over 800,000 complaints, totaling losses of $10.3 billion.

The most common types of reported crimes were phishing (300,497 complaints), followed by personal data breaches (58,859), and identity theft (51,629). The last two crimes can be prevented by using a VPN (FBI, 2022).

The age groups with the largest number of cybercrime reports were people aged 30-39 (94,506 complaints), followed by those aged 60+ (88,262). Despite a discrepancy of 6,244 complaints, the total losses for those 60+ were more than double ($3.1 billion for 60+, $1.3 billion for 30-39-year-olds) (FBI, 2022).

The top 5 states by number of cybercrime victims in 2022 were:

  • California – 80,766 victims
  • Florida – 42,792
  • Texas – 38,661
  • New York – 25,112
  • Illinois – 14,786

When it came to the top 5 states by victim loss, these were:

  • California – over $2 billion
  • Florida – $844.9 million
  • New York – $777.0 million
  • Texas – $763.1 million
  • Georgia – $322.6 million
  • (FBI, 2022)

Meanwhile, in 2023, over half of respondents (55%) stated that their organization did not experience a VPN attack (one that takes advantage of security vulnerabilities in VPN servers) in the past year (June 2022 – June 2023). However, 45% indicated that it happened at least once.

Of these 45%:

  • 16% said it happened 2-3 times over the past year
  • 13% said once
  • 12% said more than 5 times
  • 4% said 4-5 times

(Zscaler, 2023)

VPN Pricing

Among VPN users in 2022, most (47%) used a free VPN. Around a fifth (18%) spent $5-$10 a month, and 14% spent less than $5 a month. Only 7% paid more than $10 a month (Security, 2022).

Among the top VPN service providers, as of October 2023, these were the cheapest 10 providers:

  1. AtlasVPN: Free
  2. PrivadoVPN: Free
  3. ProtonVPN: Free
  4. IvacyVPN: $1/month
  5. PrivateVPN: $2/month
  6. Private Internet Access: $2.03/month
  7. CyberGhost VPN: $2.19/month
  8. PureVPN: $2.29/month
  9. Surfshark: $2.30/month
  10. TotalAV: $3.25/month

(Techopedia, 2023)

Who Pays for VPNs?

The majority of VPN users subscribe to paid VPN services (64%), while 30% of users opt for free VPN options.

In terms of payments:

  • 26% of users pay for VPN subscriptions personally
  • 13% have VPN costs covered by their organization
  • 25% benefit from a mix of individual and organizational contributions

VPN Usage in 2020 and Since

The Covid-19 pandemic and the shift to working from home led to a big increase in VPN usage. It also spiked during events in 2020 amid more online censorship fears and stay-at-home orders.

Huge spikes in VPN usage were recorded between March 8 and March 22, 2020, when VPN usage in the U.S. increased by 124% in just those two weeks.

Other countries also recorded massive spikes in the same period. Among them were:

  • Italy: +160%
  • Spain: +58%
  • Russia: +57%
  • Germany: +40%
  • Iran: +49%
  • France: +44%
  • Switzerland: +12%
  • United Kingdom: +18%

(Atlas VPN, 2020)

NordVPN statistics also show that VPN use went up during certain events in 2020. For instance, when former President Trump talked about banning TikTok, interest in VPNs went up by 74%. It also rose by 78% when the Olympics were delayed and by 55% when Trump’s travel plan was pulled back.

In Russia, meanwhile, VPNs hit a peak demand of 2,692% in March 2023, relative to February 2023, when the government banned Instagram in retaliation against Meta’s content policies.

VPN statistics
Focus on VPNs in 2020 (Security.org)

The Bottom Line

The growing interest in VPNs, reflected in the statistics above, shows how important this technology has become in our digital world. The use of VPNs soared, especially when people started working from home during the Covid-19 pandemic, offering a digital shield against cyber threats.

However, it’s not a perfect solution. The safety of VPNs has been questioned, particularly with the occurrence of VPN attacks that threaten both personal and business cybersecurity.

The conversation about making VPNs more secure is ongoing as users and companies look for stronger protections online.

The story of VPN adoption, with its ups and downs, shows the balance between tech progress and cybersecurity. As we all move through the tricky digital terrain, VPNs stand as a crucial guard against online threats, continuing to be very important for safe online experiences.

FAQs

Why do people use VPN?

Does a VPN hide, increase, or decrease data usage?

Are there any downsides to using a VPN?

How can a VPN help protect against cybercrime?

References

  1. 2022 Thales Access Management Index (Thales)
  2. 2023 VPN Risk Report (ZScaler)
  3. 2024 VPN Trends, Statistics, and Consumer Opinions (Security.org)
  4. 2024 VPN Usage Statistics (Security.org)
  5. Actions toward improvement of online data privacy among adults in the United States as of May 2023 (Statista)
  6. Americans And Privacy: New Study Finds U.S. Consumers Overwhelmingly Concerned About the Lack Of Control Over Their Personal Information (AU10TIX)
  7. Comprehension of data privacy and cybersecurity topics among adults in the United States as of May 2023 (Statista)
  8. Concerns of consumers in the United States on government and companies tracking their data as of April 2023 (Statista)
  9. Confidence of adults in the United States regarding preparedness for cyberattacks as of May 2023 (Statista)
  10. Consumer Sentinel Network Data Book (FTC)
  11. Cost of a Data Breach Report 2023 (IBM)
  12. Data breach statistics 2021 vs. 2022 (Surfshark)
  13. FBI Internet Crime Report 2022 (FBI)
  14. Global VPN Adoption Index (Atlas VPN)
  15. Have you witnessed an increase in exploits targeting your business’ VPN since your employees have been working remotely? (Statista)
  16. How Americans View Data Privacy (Pew Research Center)
  17. Internet Censorship 2024: A Global Map of Internet Restrictions (Comparitech)
  18. Internet Shutdown Tracker (Surfshark)
  19. ITRC 2022 Data Breach Report (ITRC)
  20. Leading technologies’ share in the virtual private networks (VPN) software market worldwide in 2023 (Statista)
  21. Lockdowns and panic leads to a 124% surge in VPN usage in the US (Atlas VPN)
  22. Network security equipment spending worldwide from 2017 to 2024 (Statista)
  23. Size of cyber security market worldwide from 2021 to 2030 (Statista)
  24. Size of the virtual private network (VPN) market worldwide from in 2022 versus 2032 (Statista)
  25. Share of internet users worldwide who would like to do more to protect their digital privacy as of January 2023, by country (Statista)
  26. Virtual Private Network (VPN) awareness in the United States from 2020 to 2022 (Statista)
  27. Virtual Private Networks Software Market Share (Datanyze)
  28. Virtual Private Network (VPN) – Global Strategic Business Report (Research and Markets)
  29. Virtual private network (VPN) usage in the United States from 2019 to 2022, by location (Statista)
  30. VPN Demand Surges Around the World (Top10VPN)
  31. VPN restrictions around the world (Surfshark)
  32. VPNs – Statistics & Facts (Statista)
  33. VPN Usage Survey 2023 (NordVPN)
  34. Which of the following new access technologies are you planning to deploy due to the impact of the pandemic and remote work? (Statista)
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Maria Webb
Technology Journalist
Maria Webb
Technology Journalist

Maria is a technology journalist with over five years of experience with a deep interest in AI and machine learning. She excels in data-driven journalism, making complex topics both accessible and engaging for her audience. Her work is prominently featured on Techopedia, Business2Community, and Eurostat, where she provides creative technical writing. She holds a Bachelor of Arts Honours in English and a Master of Science in Strategic Management and Digital Marketing from the University of Malta. Maria's background includes journalism for Newsbook.com.mt, covering a range of topics from local events to international tech trends.