While the number of paid VPN users in Canada is significantly growing, Canadians are also rapidly abandoning free VPN services. With only 29% of VPN users in Canada choosing free alternatives, Canadians rank only after Sweden (24%) in terms of their reluctance to use a free VPN service, shows the VPN usage survey by NordVPN. 

“A free VPN is often a privacy illusion. Operating a vast network of servers requires hundreds or even thousands of employees and a significant amount of money. Like any other company, VPN providers must make theirs profitable to continue operating. One of the main ways free VPNs make money is by selling your personal data to brokers. Then advertisers buy this data to learn more about user shopping habits and make their campaigns more effective. So, a free VPN most of the time has nothing to do with privacy and usually has poor security,” says Marijus Briedis, CTO at NordVPN.

In digital privacy, Gen Z is as bad as baby boomers

While the usage of VPNs in Canada grew by almost 6% over the last two years, the reasons for using a VPN remained nearly unchanged. Since 2022, the number of people who use VPNs to protect the privacy of data and activities online has slightly increased from 41% to 42%, and to ensure the security of devices and online accounts has increased from 28% to 30%.

The numbers, unfortunately, show that younger generations are less concerned about their privacy and cybersecurity – the number of young Canadians for whom the primary motivation to use a VPN is privacy and cybersecurity is lower in comparison to their parents and grandparents.

“Digital privacy and security awareness comes with maturity. Canadians between 25 and 54 years old care the most about their digital security and have the best VPN usage habits. Sadly, younger people who are considered to be the most digitally active are also among the most exposed to cyber threats. As a matter of fact, their privacy skills are similar to baby boomers,” says Briedis.

VPN awareness is above average in Canada

The survey shows that VPN awareness and usage are above average in Canada, making it one of the leading countries out of the 20 participating in the study. As much as 70% of Canadians know what a VPN is, with 29% of the population saying they use one. VPN usage has increased considerably since 2022, when just a bit more than 23% of all respondents said they use a VPN. A typical VPN user in Canada is male and between 25 and 54 years old. He is a hired worker with enough income for his daily needs and the ability to save.

In comparison, the average VPN awareness level in all 20 countries participating in the research in 2023 was nearly 64% and around 29% of respondents claimed that they use VPN. The largest part of society using a VPN lives in Hong Kong (51%), Singapore (43%), and Malaysia (43%). These countries are also the keenest users of free VPNs.

With 29% of the population using a VPN, Canada slightly falls behind the United States in terms of VPN usage, with 31% of Americans claiming they use a VPN. On the other hand, while only 29% of Canadian VPN users choose a free service, 40% of Americans and Mexicans rely on free VPNs.

Source: VPN