USERS of uncertified virtual private network (VPN) to bypass telecommunication interruption and secure a data system risk online piracy, hacker attacks and could be held liable to cybercrime offences.
Using VPN and similar unregulated software may expose users to cybercrimes, cyber terrorism, online piracy and poses a threat to national security, according to ICT network experts.
Mr John Mashurano, a Dar es Salaam-based ICT and networks consultant, told ‘Daily News’ that using software such as free VPNs posed security threats and users had to bear in mind of the risks and imminent consequences.
“VPN alters the level of an encryption tunnel, which hides the identity of users and contradicts national online security systems, whereby monitoring bodies fail to identify the real location of a given network user. “Some freely available VPNs place a particular user’s data at risk of being hacked,” Mr Mashurano said after being reached by this paper on rumours of increased use of VPN in the country.
He said further that some VPNs might expose one’s data to untrusted persons, while national data security organs like the police might be unaware and unable to intervene as users hid their identities and locations from the system.
“Using unsecured VPN is like allowing access of personal data to an untrusted person or entity. This is done while bypassing local online securing bodies like police’s cybercrime department and, therefore, endangers oneself and national security,” he said.
The ICT and networks consultant added that bypassing national security systems while meddling with other unauthorised communications frequencies might be linked to online crimes like cyber terrorism and cybercrime, which might land users into trouble.
Mr Mashurano also said that bypassing the national ICT system denied the government revenue in form of tax as it might not be easy to monitor payments made for online businesses and adverts.
On hacker attacks, Mr Mashurano hinted that most free VPN service providers displayed their ads on mobile devices.
“They record online user behaviour and sell data to advertisers in search of business. Using free VPN means that your service provider will sell your data to other advertisers,” he said.
Section 9 (a) and (b) of the Cybercrime Act of 2015 provides that “A person, who intentionally and unlawfully hinders or interferes with the functioning of a computer system is liable to a fine of not less than 2m/- or three times of value the undue advantage received, whichever is greater, or to imprisonment for a term of not less than one year or to both.”