The coronavirus has shaken a host of countries as it wends its way around the globe. One country that has been affected especially hard is Italy, which at this point has been hit by almost 28,000 confirmed cases and more than 2,100 deaths. In response, Italy has shut down schools, restaurants, museums, and other public places. As the country tries to adapt to a way of life under the COVID-19 outbreak, more people are staying or working at home and using the internet, leading to a dramatic increase in the use of VPNs, according to Atlas VPN.
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Measuring the traffic generated by 50,000 users through its own VPN product, Atlas found that usage in Italy had skyrocketed by 112% in the past week. Atlas derived that percentage by analyzing the level of traffic through its servers from March 9-15 compared with the previous week of March 2-8. Though the use of the product jumped during the period, the number of customers remained the same.
VPN use has also increased in other countries affected by the coronavirus, according to Atlas’s findings. In the US, VPN traffic seen by Atlas rose by 53% over the past week. Traffic rose by 38% in Iran, by 36% in Spain, by 36% in Russia, and by 29% in Germany.
Atlas offered several reasons VPN use has risen so dramatically during the coronavirus outbreak, especially in Italy.
More people are staying home due to the closure of public places and the cancellation of public gatherings. By staying home, people are using the internet more frequently, with many of them choosing to watch TV shows and movies. But certain streaming services, such as Netflix and BBC, apply restrictions for viewing content in certain locations. A VPN provides a way to circumvent those restrictions, letting people access content from across the world.
Most companies are asking or encouraging their employees to work from home. To access a company’s network, many people have to use a VPN to protect themselves, their employers, and their data. Finally, some companies are offering free services to Italians as a sign of support. People from other countries are using VPNs to pretend to be from Italy as a way to access these services.