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VPN not a secure way to avoid impact of internet cuts - Expert warns

Tech expert, Derek Laryea has cautioned against relying on Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) as a secure workaround in the wake of widespread internet disruptions across Ghana and parts of Africa due to undersea cable cuts.

Tech expert, Derek Laryea

Laryea, who serves as the Director of the Africa Digital Economy Forum, emphasized the vulnerabilities inherent in using VPNs during an interview on TV3 New Day.

Laryea stated, "It is not something I recommend, it is not a recommendation made by the Telcos. Interestingly, people have found it convenient to talk about going on some particular VPN application, but from a tech standpoint, it also presents you with certain vulnerabilities."

He further explained that VPN usage could expose users to risks, as the systems they previously relied on for connectivity might no longer be available. Additionally, concerns have been raised by consultants regarding the security of various VPN services.

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He elaborated on the risks, noting, "You realize that those who are using that kind of system what is required for, what was the existence that was allowing them to be able to connect now, you are not going to have that system, basically check what kind of work pages you are browsing and what kind of media you are on and all of that, so there [have] been concerns from Consultants that you need to also be careful what kind of VPN you jump on, it is not something I recommend, because it is also not a recommendation from those who are providing you with the primary service which is the Telcos."

The warning comes amidst the announcement by the National Communications Authority (NCA) that full internet connectivity would be restored within five weeks. However, Laryea expressed skepticism, noting that the required technology might not be readily available in Africa.

The disruptions, stemming from undersea cable damage in the Red Sea and off the West African coast on March 14th, have severely impacted numerous African countries. Ivory Coast, Liberia, Ghana, and Benin are among the nations experiencing severe outages, while others like Nigeria, South Africa, and Namibia are facing varying degrees of disruption.

As large swaths of Africa grapple with internet instability, users are urged to exercise caution when resorting to VPNs as a temporary solution.

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