VPN downloads skyrocket in Cuba following internet outages
VPN and privacy software users have surged in Cuba as authorities shut down internet access to crack down on protesters.
There were more than 34,000 additional downloads of the free VPN-like service Psiphon compared to the two weeks before the incident, independent media organization Inventario reported. About 89,000 Cubans have installed the software on their device so they can bypass the restrictions.
In the early morning hours of July 15, a wave of internet disruptions swept across the country to silence protesters. Beginning in Pinar Del Río and extending to the capital Havana, Cubans took to the streets to denounce months of shortages of food, medicine, fuel and electricity that are crippling the island.
Internet shutdowns are a growing problem around the world, with authoritarian governments using them to restrict communications, especially during protests or elections. This is why people have learned to activate one of the best VPN services to mitigate the impacts and access censored sites like social media platforms.
With the apagón of #internet in the madrugada del julio 15, the amount of usuarios activos de la VPN @PsiphonInc in #Cuba suddenly increases. 2 weeks)#KeepitOn https://t.co/TamBvriiSI pic.twitter.com/RZvny4GQ2cJuly 17, 2022
Why is Psiphon so popular in Cuba?
Developed by Citizen Lab researchers in 2007 to help users living under restricted internet freedom, Psiphon is circumvention software that allows users to circumvent internet censorship.
It is completely free and open-source, combining secure communication and obfuscation technologies. It uses VPN, SSH, and web proxy software to bypass robust firewalls that other services fail to circumvent.
Psiphon works by diverting web traffic to prevent filtering machines from filtering your online activities. At the same time, it masks your traffic to appear as a connection not subject to the restrictions in place.
The software is available for Android, Windows and iOS. The free version comes with unlimited bandwidth and no registration required, but its speed is limited to 2 Mbps. You can also upgrade to Psiphon Pro for $9.99 per month, or a whopping $8.33 per month on the annual plan.
However, if you are looking to invest some money, there are better cheap VPN services that we recommend. Our number 1 on this list is Surfshark, for example, which comes down to a monthly fee of $2.30 when you sign up for a two-year plan.
There are also a ton of free VPN apps. Be sure to read our guide, though, before making your choice. Many of these services can either expose your data or fail to unblock censored sites. As of this writing, Proton VPN Free is our favorite.