Hidden Tricks and Tools Embedded in Your Free VPN
By Muyiwa Awosile
Since the Federal Government of Nigeria implemented the ban on Twitter, many Nigerians have resorted to using free Virtual Private Network (VPN) software to bypass the restrictions put in place by the Internet Service Providers (ISPs) in the country on their networks.
A VPN software works by creating a secure connection between a user’s device and the internet. When you connect to the internet through VPN software, all the data traffic from your device is sent through an encrypted virtual tunnel and this can make you safer, anonymous and freer on the internet as you’ll be able to access websites and online services that would otherwise be blocked.
There are two main types of VPN software – the free ones (which are more popular with Nigerians) and the premium ones which you have to pay a subscription for.
Using a free VPN could actually make you less safe online, cost you more than you realise, and ruin your entire internet experience.
Premium VPNs on the other hand offer a lot more protection, for a small fee, without the hidden dangers that free VPNs expose users to.
Before using a free VPN, you need to be aware of the drawbacks associated with them. Five of these are explained below.
Your security could be compromised
One of the primary purposes of a VPN is to protect you from hackers but unfortunately, some VPNs actually contain malware, adware or other malicious software which can compromise your device leading to security breaches. A lot of the malware is related to advertising as free VPN software developers rely on advertising for revenue.
Online activity tracking
A major reason people use VPNs is to protect their privacy while browsing the internet but unfortunately many free VPNs have third-party trackers embedded in the software.
These trackers are used to gather data on the user’s online activity, so advertisers are better able to target users with ads. So, instead of providing users with privacy, the VPNs are doing the exact opposite, by collecting user information and selling it to the highest advertising bidder.
Limited data usage
Many free VPNs limit the amount of data you can use. They do this to push users into upgrading to a paid plan out of sheer frustration.
Slower internet speed
Free VPNs can also lead to slower internet speeds, leading to a frustrating user experience. This is because traffic from the free version is sometimes deprioritised when compared to the paid or premium versions.
Free VPNs can also slow down your internet speeds when targeted ads are displayed. The justification for the ads is that since users are not paying any monthly subscriptions, free VPNs need another way to make money off them.
Potential vulnerability to botnets
A botnet infects a large number of individual computers or devices with malware and harnesses them together to carry out an attack.
Some VPN products are designed to harness the processing power from the devices of their free users and offer that power to their paying customers for profit. This is of serious concern as cybercriminals are able to exploit this vulnerability to launch attacks on unsuspecting VPN users.
VPNs are complicated software that requires a great deal of investment to create and maintain. They constantly need to keep up with the ever-changing world of internet privacy. That is why free VPN providers try to cover their costs and generate revenue from their users by embedding hidden tools and tricks.
These tactics are not only dangerous and risky but completely negate the principles of security and privacy that VPNs are supposed to be built for in the first place.
Muyiwa Awosile is a Cybersecurity and Data Privacy Consultant and Managing Director of Tros Technologies. He could be reached via 016309573 ext 105 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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Africa’s Rise in Technology is Unstoppable—Sanwo-Olu
By Modupe Gbadeyanka
The Governor of Lagos State, Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu, has declared that Africa’s rise in technology is unstoppable, noting that his state will continue to play a prominent role in the ecosystem.
The Lagos Governor made this declaration at the GITEX Africa Digital Summit in Morocco, where the state government sponsored 25 startups in partnership with the Dubai World Trade Centre to demonstrate its commitment to fostering innovation and entrepreneurship.
GITEX Africa Morocco is Africa’s largest and most influential tech and startup event, renowned for showcasing technological advancements, innovations, and digital transformation.
The event provided a platform for Nigerian startups to pitch their ideas, connect with investors, and network with industry leaders on a global scale.
The small firms sponsored by the state government included Pocket Food, Access Tech, Printivo, Startup Lagos, Eko Institute of Technology, Kirgawa, Qore, Imperial EdTech, Bunce, Etaps, and Innovia Labs.
Mr Sanwo-Olu, who also attended the summit with the delegation, highlighted the remarkable growth of Africa’s tech start-up sector and emphasised that Nigerian tech start-ups surpassed the $4 billion mark in 2022, with Lagos playing a leading role in the continent’s digital transformation.
He said that from Nairobi to Cape Town and Rwanda to Morocco, the continent was emerging as a global tech hub, attracting local and international investments.
He then called for continued collaboration between the public and private sectors to harness Africa’s limitless potential.
GITEX Africa Morocco brings together the brightest minds, entrepreneurs, and investors worldwide to explore Africa’s rapidly advancing tech landscape.
With a focus on AI, Cybersecurity, Fintech, Cloud Computing, and Connectivity, the event offers invaluable insights and opportunities to shape inclusive digital societies and drive technological advancements across various sectors.
The Special Adviser to the Governor of Lagos, Tunbosun Alake; the Commissioner for Science and Technology, Mr Hakeem Fahm; and the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Science and Technology, Mrs Ibilola Kasunmu, were among the delegation.
The Lagos team and startups were also supported by the Eko Innovation Centre, an innovation hub focused on driving the growth of startups and promoting digital transformation in Nigeria.
Stakeholders Anticipate Emurgo Africa’s State of Web 3.0 in Africa Report
By Modupe Gbadeyanka
All is now set for unveiling the State of Web 3.0 in Africa report by a dynamic blockchain technology company, Emurgo Africa.
The study, the first on the continent, aims to fill a knowledge gap by examining the potential of these technologies to advance social and economic development in Africa.
It presents a detailed view of the current landscape and prospects of Web 3.0 technologies in the region, featuring real-world use cases, possibilities and obstacles connected with their adoption.
It was gathered that work explored various aspects of Web 3.0, such as decentralized finance (DeFi), blockchain technology, digital identity, smart contracts, and data privacy.
It also looked into the regulatory environment, infrastructure, and access to technology in the target nations, identifying areas for development that will facilitate the growth and adoption of Web 3.0 technologies.
The chief executive of Emurgo Africa, Mr Ahmed M. Amer, while commenting on the reports, which would be released on June 23, 2023, at a media conference in Nairobi, Kenya, said, “The future of Web 3.0 technologies in Africa is bright, with the potential to drive unprecedented social, financial and economic development across the continent.
“This report emphasizes the critical importance of collaboration between stakeholders, policymakers, and regulators in fully realizing the transformative power of Web 3.0 technologies in Africa.”
Expected at the unveiling are industry leaders, policymakers and the press, as well as key figures from prominent blockchain investors, developers and ecosystem players, including NODO, CVVC, GreenHouse Capital, PwC and Cardano.
Web 3.0 technologies are gradually becoming popular in Africa, and this report by Emurgo Africa will highlight the rapidly-evolving landscape, providing an in-depth analysis of their impact, opportunities, and challenges and offering recommendations for fostering growth and measurable impact.
The system can potentially bring transformative change to industries such as trade and industry, financial services and lending, supply chain management and logistics and healthcare provision and accessibility.
Factors such as regulatory clarity, infrastructure development, and collaboration between stakeholders will play a significant role in these technologies’ widespread use and successful implementation.
Key findings from the report include the immense opportunities for the African continent through the adoption of Web 3.0 technologies, a staggering 1,668 per cent increase in investment in blockchain technology in Africa between 2021 and 2022, and the crucial importance of collaboration between industry stakeholders, policymakers, and regulators in fostering an environment conducive to the growth of Web 3.0 technologies.
Nigeria, Others Break Pledge Not to Impose Internet Restrictions
By Adedapo Adesanya
A new study showed that Nigeria was among those that pledged to uphold free Internet according to a 2021 United Nations resolution but yet imposed restrictions.
The UN resolution on human rights on the internet aims to protect and promote human rights online, but some supporting countries have broken their word, according to a study by Cybersecurity company Surfshark, analysing UN countries’ stances in the 2021 UN Human Rights Council (HRC) Resolution on the promotion, protection, and enjoyment of human rights on the internet.
It was conducted by comparing countries’ stances with data from Surfshark’s Internet Shutdown Tracker, Surfshark was able to identify 5 African countries that claimed to support the resolution but “broke their word” by imposing internet restrictions.
On Nigeria’s end, it had one ongoing restriction at the time of the resolution’s adoption but has had no new restrictions since then.
Nigeria had banned Twitter a month before the adoption, and the restriction lasted until January 2022.
The federal government suspended Twitter on June 4, 2021, after it removed a post from President Muhammadu Buhari that threatened to punish regional secessionists.
The FG told the nation’s telecommunication companies to block access to users in Nigeria, leading users to fall to the use of Virtual Private Networks (VPNs). It was not until January 13, 2022, that the suspension was lifted.
Other African countries that supported the 2021 UN resolution but “broke their word” were Sudan, Burkina Faso, Mauritania, and Somalia.
The report noted that Sudan has “broken its word” the most in Africa, with nine internet disruptions that took place after the country supported the 2021 resolution, the first one happening amid the 2021 military coup.
Burkina Faso comes in second, with four restrictions since the resolution’s adoption in 2021. The country’s 2022 restriction on Facebook is still in place today. Mauritania and Somalia both had one internet restriction since supporting the resolution. Mauritania restricted mobile internet amid a prison riot, and Somalia had an internet blackout after the parliament voted to remove the prime minister.
Speaking on this, Gabriele Racaityte-Krasauske, Surfshark spokeswoman, said, “In today’s world, internet shutdowns have become a major concern. Authoritarian governments frequently employ them as a means to manipulate the public and stifle free speech. The UN resolution on human rights on the internet aims to make countries openly condemn these shutdowns and other ways of restricting online speech.”
“However, it’s concerning that even though 5 African countries publicly supported the resolution, they still imposed internet restrictions. It’s important to promote an open and accessible internet and pressure countries to uphold their commitments regarding human rights online,” she said.
Nine countries from other continents also “broke their word”: India, Cuba, Uzbekistan, Pakistan, Russia, Brazil, Armenia, Indonesia, and Ukraine.
Surfshark’s Internet Shutdown Tracker reveals that there were a total of 58 internet disruptions in these 14 countries during or after the adoption of the resolution.
India stands out as the country that has “broken its word” the most, with 19 internet disruptions since the resolution’s adoption in 2021, adding that if it included the Jammu and Kashmir region, this number would be even higher.
The Human Rights Council convenes at least three regular sessions annually. The upcoming 53rd session is scheduled for the summer of 2023.
“While the agenda of the specific resolution is currently unknown, Surfshark will keep an eye out for any updates regarding upcoming UN resolutions on human rights on the internet,” the firm noted.
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