[Column] Is a VPN a legal cybersecurity solution in Africa?
VPN, or Virtual Private Network, is a system allowing users to browse the Internet using encrypted connections. The secure tunnel helps provide numerous benefits, including opening access to apps and websites blocked by government protocols.
VPNs are generally legal in many countries. Still, certain locations ban or restrict the use of the service for different reasons. Countries that aren’t too keen on using VPN services include China, North Korea, and Russia.
One continent that may come to mind when thinking about VPNs is Africa. Many individuals might see this location’s government to uphold strict Internet laws. But, is it legal to use a VPN to enhance cybersecurity in Africa?
What’s a VPN?
A VPN is a service allowing people to use private connections to access apps, websites, or other computers. This particular network might span the entire globe. Hence, a user might be in Africa while using a Singaporean server to access a website hosted in Russia.
This secure tunnel comes with an encrypted connection. Thus, hackers and other cyber attackers might find it more challenging than the norm to gain access to a user’s data.
How can African people use VPNs?
VPN options for South Africa people exist, but does it mean that these services are legal to use in this area? Using VPNs in Africa is legal, and it might be useful in uncertain times. For example, African Internet users can use software to encrypt connections when its government bans text messages amidst political unrest.
Like other people in different regions, African people can use VPN services as a legal cybersecurity solution. Software provided by cybersecurity companies can help secure Internet connections for users to gain certain benefits.
What are the benefits of using a VPN?
Using a VPN service may provide numerous benefits, which may include:
• Additional Privacy
Internet Protocol (IP) sniffing tools will find it challenging to trace connections back to sources. In other words, software using online tools and websites won’t know your browsing history.
Also, a reliable VPN service supplies secure encryption to help combat cyber-attacks.
Many African users need confidentiality when browsing the Internet. A trustworthy VPN app helps create an anonymous Internet profile. The software also proves to be a useful tool when conducting sensitive transactions online.
• Minimal Data Logging
VPNs can still log data to help enhance the services they provide. However, the information recorded won’t be as extensive as browsing the Internet through traditional means.
African VPN users may browse the web, knowing that their Internet browsing histories remain confidential.
What are the Restrictions When Using VPNs?
Despite its many benefits, VPNs still have restrictions. Service users, including individuals in Africa, should pay heed to these limitations to avoid getting issues from the government.
These constraints include:
• Incomplete Traffic Encryption
Many VPN services don’t encrypt all traffic coming through sources. These apps might secure the connection from devices to servers. So, it can help prevent Internet Service Provider (ISP) sniffing and hacking.
However, these services might not hide the traffic going from the VPN server to the target destination. Powerful cyber-sleuthing tools might still notice illegal activities done online, even with the use of an encrypted network.
To summarize, VPNs can help mask traffic for privacy, but users should still be wary of the consequences if they use these services for illicit activities.
• Data Logging
While ISPs can’t log browsing histories, VPN servers can still monitor everything you do online. The African government can still seize this data when needed for certain operations.
Thus, it’s essential to use trusted VPN software. Use VPN tests to see if a particular program is shady. Also, read online reviews to check if companies sell gathered information to third parties.
Search for VPN service providers with a no-logs claim. Specific VPNs might supply independent audits upon request to help prove their security features.
At the time of writing, many websites look for ways to block unwanted access. These built-in firewalls prevent access to software like Ad Blockers and VPNs. Hence, it’s still possible for specific apps and sites to continue blocking access even if you use an encrypted connection.
However, it’s also possible to bypass a firewall with additional help. For example, using an appropriate browser extension plus a VPN can help increase the encryption sent and received to a source.
The African government continues to place strict rules regarding Internet access in the continent. However, users can legally enhance cybersecurity with the help of a reliable VPN service.
Knowing its benefits and limitations can aid in providing excellent and secure browsing experiences for people in Africa. But, it’s advisable to consult local laws to prevent any legal concerns about VPN use.