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Hidden Tricks and Tools Embedded in Your Free VPN

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Virtual Private Network (VPN) - Investors King

By Muyiwa Awosile

Since the Federal Government of Nigeria implemented the ban on Twitter, many Nigerians have resorted to using Free Virtual Private Network (VPN) software to bypass the restrictions put in place by the Internet Service Providers in the country (ISPs) on their networks.

A VPN software works by creating a secure connection between a user’s device and the internet. When you connect to the internet through a VPN software, all the data traffic from your device is sent through an encrypted virtual tunnel and this can make you safer, anonymous and freer on the internet as you’ll be able to access websites and online services that would otherwise be blocked.

There are two main types of VPN software – the FREE ones (which are more popular with Nigerians) and the Premium ones which you have to pay a subscription for. Using a free VPN could actually make you less safe online, cost you more than you realise, and ruin your entire internet experience. Premium VPNs on the other hand offer a lot more protection, for a small fee, without the hidden dangers that Free VPNs expose users to. Before using a free VPN, you need to be aware of the drawbacks associated with them. Five of these are explained below.

Your Security could be Compromised

One of the primary purposes of a VPN is to protect you from hackers but unfortunately some VPNs actually contain malware, adware or other malicious software which can compromise your device leading to security breaches. A lot of the malware is related to advertising as free VPN software developers rely on advertising for revenue.

Online Activity Tracking

A major reason people use VPNs is to protect their privacy while browsing the internet but unfortunately many free VPNs have third-party trackers embedded in the software. These trackers are used to gather data on the user’s online activity, so advertisers are better able to target users with ads. So instead of providing users with privacy, the VPNs are doing the exact opposite, by collecting user information and selling it to the highest advertising bidder.

Limited Data Usage

Many free VPNs limit the amount of data you can use. They do this to push users into upgrading to a paid plan out of sheer frustration.

Slower Internet Speed

Free VPNs can also lead to slower internet speeds leading to a frustrating user experience. This is because traffic from the free version is sometimes deprioritised when compared to the paid or premium versions. Free VPNs can also slow down your internet speeds when targeted ads are displayed. The justification for the ads is that since users are not paying any monthly subscriptions, free VPNs need another way to make money off them.

Potential vulnerability to botnets

A botnet infects a large number of individual computers or devices with malware and harnesses them together to carry out an attack. Some VPN products are designed to harness the processing power from the devices of their free users and offer that power to their paying customers for profit. This is of serious concern as cyber criminals are able to exploit this vulnerability to launch attacks on unsuspecting VPN users.

VPNs are complicated software that require a great deal of investment to create and maintain. They constantly need to keep up with the ever-changing world of internet privacy. That is why Free VPN providers try to cover their costs and generate revenue from their users by embedding hidden tools and tricks. These tactics are not only dangerous and risky but completely negate the principles of security and privacy that VPNs are supposed to be built for in the first place.

Muyiwa Awosile is a Cybersecurity and Data Privacy Consultant and Managing Director of Tros Technologies. 

Is the CEO/Founder of Investors King Limited. A proven foreign exchange research analyst and a published author on Yahoo Finance, Businessinsider, Nasdaq, Entrepreneur.com, Investorplace, and many more. He has over two decades of experience in global financial markets.

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Fintech

Flutterwave Celebrates Inclusion in CNBC’s Top 250 Global Fintechs

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Flutterwave has been recognized as one of the Top 250 Fintech companies globally by CNBC and Statista.

Joining the ranks of industry giants like Ali Pay, Klarna, Piggyvest, and Mastercard, this accolade underscores Flutterwave’s impact on the financial technology sector.

This honor follows Flutterwave’s recent inclusion in Fast Company’s Most Innovative Companies list, highlighting the company’s pivotal role in transforming Africa’s payment landscape.

The recognition is a testament to Flutterwave’s dedication to innovation and excellence in providing seamless payment solutions across the continent.

Expressing gratitude, Flutterwave acknowledged its talented team, supportive board, reliable partners, and loyal customers for contributing to this success.

The company continues to drive progress in the fintech industry, reinforcing its commitment to enhancing financial accessibility and inclusion in Africa and beyond.

Flutterwave’s recognition on these prestigious lists marks a proud moment and a significant milestone in its journey, reflecting the company’s growing influence and leadership in the global fintech arena.

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Startups

Google Leads $250 Million Funding Round for Glance

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A logo is pictured at Google's European Engineering Center in Zurich

Google is leading a $250 million funding round for Glance, a mobile content provider.

This infusion of capital aims to expand Glance’s reach and solidify its market position amidst growing competition.

Glance, a subsidiary of InMobi Group, offers a unique service that delivers news, entertainment, and other content directly to users’ mobile screens without unlocking their devices.

With a user base exceeding 300 million across India, the US, Japan, and Indonesia, the startup has gained significant traction since its inception in 2019.

The funding round, expected to close in the coming weeks, marks a continued partnership between Google and Glance.

Google initially invested in the company in 2020, and this latest round will further enhance Glance’s capabilities to innovate and reach new audiences.

This investment reflects Google’s strategic interest in India, the world’s most populous nation, where it competes with tech giants like Microsoft, Meta, and Amazon.

With India’s rapidly growing middle class and increasing smartphone adoption, the market presents vast opportunities for digital expansion.

The support from Google comes on the heels of a previous $200 million investment by Mukesh Ambani, Asia’s wealthiest individual, which valued Glance at over $1 billion.

The startup’s largest stakeholder, InMobi, continues to thrive as a pioneer in mobile advertising, with Glance benefiting from its expertise and resources.

As Glance prepares for this new phase of growth, it stands poised to redefine how content is consumed on mobile devices worldwide.

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Technology

Cyber Threats Surge as Nigeria’s Digital Economy Expands

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cybercrime - Investors King

As Nigeria’s digital economy flourishes, it faces escalating cyber threats, prompting the Federal Government to issue 33 cyberattack advisories in the past year.

These warnings, issued by the Nigeria Computer and Emergency Response Team (ngCERT), highlight the growing vulnerability of the nation’s digital infrastructure.

Since July 2023, ngCERT has alerted Nigerians to new attack methods and vulnerabilities. With 22 advisories issued in 2024 alone, the surge in cyberattacks coincides with the accelerated digitization spurred by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Monthly internet usage in Nigeria soared from 125,149.86 terabytes in December 2019 to 753,388.77 terabytes in March 2024.

The National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) notes that increased digitalization has heightened cybersecurity risks, necessitating robust protective measures.

According to Check Point Research, Nigerian businesses face approximately 2,308 attacks weekly across all sectors.

The advisories reveal various cyber threats, including ransomware and banking trojans. A recent warning highlighted Grandoreiro, a malware targeting over 1,500 banks globally, affecting 41 banking applications in Nigeria alone.

These attacks aim to steal sensitive financial data, potentially causing significant financial losses.

Nigeria’s critical infrastructure is also under threat. In August, pro-Nigerien hackers attempted to disrupt MTN Nigeria’s network, although they were unsuccessful.

During the 2023 elections, the government recorded 12.99 million cyberattacks, underscoring the scale of the threat.

Cybercrime costs Nigeria about $500 million annually. This includes data damage, stolen money, lost productivity, and post-attack disruptions.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation ranked Nigeria as the 16th country worst affected by cybercrime in 2020.

Experts emphasize the need for stronger cybersecurity measures. Adesina Sodiya, a professor of Computer Science and Information Security, warns that cyberattacks will continue to grow in sophistication.

He stresses the importance of building a cybersecurity curriculum and involving experts in creating effective strategies.

In response, NITDA plans to reduce cyberattacks by 40% by 2027. “As we digitize, we must build with security in mind,” said Kashifu Inuwa, director-general of NITDA.

The agency aims to implement comprehensive strategies to protect Nigeria’s burgeoning digital economy.

As Nigeria’s digital economy expands, it must address the growing cyber threats that accompany this progress. By enhancing cybersecurity measures and fostering collaboration among stakeholders, Nigeria can safeguard its digital future.

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