Last week, a Dubai mom was terrified when her son received a death threat on WhatsApp, reports Gulf News. She urged all parents to take precautions to ensure their children stay safe online, and the newspaper offered a list of tips on how to protect children who use Internet, mentioning VPNs as one of the necessary means.
There is a problem with this advice, however. VPNs have just been banned by UAE’s royal command, and anyone using a VPN or a proxy server could face imprisonment or a fine of up to two million dirhams ($500K USD).
As the above example suggests, VPNs are becoming an essential tool in order to stay safe and secure in today’s uncontrollable Internet landscape.
NordVPN analyses the ways that VPNs help us stay safe online and how people’s safety can be harmed by the ban.
What is a VPN?
VPN (Virtual Private Network) is a technology that encrypts your online traffic, hides your IP address, and allows you to appear to be in a different country online. Here are some of the most common uses of VPNs:
1. To protect oneself when going online, especially when using public Wi-Fi.
Going online, especially through an open network, makes anyone vulnerable to hacking attacks. The most common threat is a hacker positioning himself as a hotspot. When that happens, a Wi-Fi user will be sending their information to a hacker, and that could include credit card information, all emails, and any other sensitive information they might be transmitting. This is extremely easy for a hacker to do, as Wi-Fi spots rarely require authentication to establish a connection.
A VPN creates a secure connection tunnel that encrypts all the Internet data coming in and out of your device, and effectively protects anyone using the Internet. If VPNs are banned, then anyone who uses Wi-Fi becomes open to hacking attacks.
2. To access blocked apps for video chat and voice calling, such as Viber and Skype.
Many UAE residents use apps like Skype or Viber to keep in touch with friends and family abroad, since these apps are blocked in UAE, and international calls are expensive. A VPN is an essential tool that helps change an IP address and connect to a country where Skype or Viber are not blocked.
3. To bypass data retention.
Many governments are passing data retention laws that require Internet and phone service providers to collect user data. If there is a security breach, this data could easily leak and end up in the wrong hands. A VPN protects your online data from being collected.
4. To protect business activities online.
Most businesses, especially those with remote workers, use VPNs. A VPN secures all communication between different business sites and enables hiring remote workers. Without a VPN, the security of business communications would be in jeopardy.
For more information, please visit www.nordvpn.com.