VPN demand surged on November 20th as millions of people tuned in to watch Qatar vs Ecuador in the first game of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022.
According to SafetyDetectives researchers’ analysis, VPN demand during the first game increased by 1,038% compared to the same time 7 days prior.
VPN use has been growing among soccer fans in recent years, and yesterday’s surge is in line with increases in VPN demand seen during the 2014 and 2018 FIFA World Cups.
A VPN is a security tool that hides the user’s identity and their device’s location and protects their internet traffic as they surf the internet. Soccer fans can use a VPN to bypass censorship and geo-restrictions to gain access to World Cup coverage and related content.
Why Is VPN Demand Surging?
Fans may use a VPN to access geo-restricted content, such as free TV coverage in a different country than their own. In fact, we’ve seen interest in the BBC’s World Cup coverage grow online in recent days, as people tune in to watch its English-language broadcasts. Traveling fans may also use a VPN to watch broadcasts being aired in their home country.
Various nations’ have pressured ISPs to block illegally streamed coverage of the Qatar World Cup, while Qatar itself has a track record of internet censorship. These restrictions could also lead fans to use VPNs and contribute to a surge in VPN demand.
As with any major event, cybercriminals will likely take advantage of the World Cup’s popularity to attack soccer fans and snoop on their internet traffic. While this probably isn’t a key driver of the recent surge in VPN demand, the threat of cybercrime is another good reason for traveling fans to obscure their internet traffic with a VPN.
The SafetyDetectives research team compiled data to measure the impact of the FIFA World Cup 2022 on VPN demand. To calculate the surge, we compared VPN demand during the World Cup’s first game, Qatar vs Ecuador, to data samples of VPN demand taken before the World Cup.