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VPN users risk criminal liability

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.”

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  • avatar
    Thomas Tim

    Do you guys at Daily News even fact-check or research the claims put forward to you by your 'consultants'? It seems all you do is take what people say and post it (start inducing fear among the public) Firstly, the example put forward for "hacker attacks" where your consultant says "data is sold to advertisers" is not called hacking. That's what Google, Facebook and several other companies are already doing. Your usage is tracked and experience tailor-made via advertising. Without a VPN, this is even more prevalent as all your details are open. You keep on stating the word "unsecured" vpn, but at the top you point out users of "uncertified" vpn, I'm not sure if you are on the same page. So how do you judge what is secure and what isn't? Some parts of the public actually pay for this service, to get a fully functioning product. Also, when you access the internet via VPN, a user knows where they are going to (a website, a download etc). It's similar to when they are using internet normally, So when you say cybercrime, that means a user is deliberately entering a malicious website; you can't control that even without a VPN. Nowhere in your article, do you or does your consultant point out how the current Mobile network operators continue to access the Internet including social media, while they significantly degrade or disable access for users. How are you at Daily news accessing the Internet and able to post the above article? You might say it's a paid 24/4 Internet access that you have, but this is not the something that all of the public have and the public has businesses to run, social media presences to maintain, online education to attain etc. So if a user is for some reason risking being in trouble, then the Mobile network operators should come along with them.

  • avatar

    Rubbish, rubbish and rubbish.

  • avatar

    Operating internet banking without a VPN is tantamount to welcoming hacking and malicious attacks, every one should know that.

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