Nigeria’s Minister for Information, Lai Mohammed, on Wednesday said citizens who use Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) to bypass the government’s ban on Twitter risked cyber theft.
Mr Mohammed claimed that VPNs would expose private data such as bank details to criminals who could use such information to access bank accounts and steal funds.
“My advice to anybody using VPN is to stop it — because when you use VPN, it exposes your entire data, including your bank accounts. I’m serious. So, if you are using VPN and you think you are hurting Lai Mohammed, you are hurting yourself,” he said.
But how true is this?
NEWS DIRECT findings showed that VPNs fetch plaintext data from a device and make it into unreadable ciphertext for outsiders, including spies, hackers, even the user’s Internet Service Provider (ISP), who might want to intercept it. The data travels that way to the VPN server where it is then decrypted and transmitted to its destination.
What this means is that if cyber criminals successfully intercept a user’s data while travelling down the VPN tunnel, all they get is a complex code that cannot be broken down by ordinary computers. In fact, findings have shown that VPNs make it more difficult to track down an internet user by government agencies who can easily order an ISP to produce a target citizen’s data.
Getting a VPN isn’t a difficult thing. There are paid VPNs and there free ones that can guarantee you seamless usage of Twitter in Nigeria notwithstanding the government’s suspension.
Some of the best-paid VPNs for Twitter, according to Comparitech, are ExpressVPN, NordVPN and Surfshark, CyberGhost, IPVanish, VyprVPN, and ZenMate. The free VPNs that can be used for Twitter include: ProtonVPN, Hotspot Shield Free VPN, Windscribe free, TunnelBear, Speedify and Hide.me.
The country where your VPN is located affects how secure your VPN is. For instance, if your VPN is located in a country whose government has data retention laws, the VPN might be forced to store your information in secret or if some apps you use are restricted in certain countries, you will also be affected even if you are not there. For example, Binance is banned in the US so if your VPN is set to any US state, your account will be banned.
It is advisable to avoid free VPNs. Users can go for paid VPNs which offer better security. These paid VPNs prevent IP address disclosure and do not collect data logs that users share on it.