On Tuesday the 19th of January 2019, Zimbabwe’s Internet was shut down by the government, the country went for 3 good days on an Internet Blackout, it was estimated that she lost over $17 Million on income and other revenues.
The only ways in which a handful of Zimbabweans accessed the internet was through VPNs (Virtual Private Networks). A Uk-Based VPN provider BestVPN reported that the services had a 1,500% increase in VPN searches by Zimbabweans.
A lot were using these VPNs without total knowledge on what they are exactly using.
What is a VPN?
It’s the number of computers connected by a network, the internet. However, the basic idea of the VPN is that it is not a real network such as the Internet; it is a virtual one. Let’s see what it means and how we, ordinary Internet users, may benefit from “virtuality.”
We are in no way claiming to provide an academic description of this, but we will try to explain VPN in a language understandable to all users.
In order to begin, let’s imagine the entire Internet millions of computers, servers, and other various devices combined into one giant network without a single center. This network exists physically, in the form of wires connecting all the computers in this network.
Virtual Private Network (VPN) does not have these physical components. They use the same Internet to which they continue to be connected.
They permeate this conventional internet with tunnels and are interconnected by these tunnels inside the regular internet. “Virtuality”
VPN tunnels are highly encrypted, Security is the basic function of a VPN and it is not possible to intercept and read the data being transmitted within the VPN.
Did you know that whenever you are connected to the Internet, you are assigned an Internet Protocol (IP) address a numerical combination (192.168.28.3) that is essentially similar to a regular street address. With an IP address, you can be tracked down as easily as with a regular street address.
When you are using VPN, basically you do not exist in the internet world and you will be untraceable from all your internet activities. The world of hacks, viruses is not even a language when using VPNs.
The greatest need for VPNs, is when you are restricted to browse, or visit specific websites in your country. Like what we experienced in Zimbabwe where the government practiced censorship of the Internet.
They restrict access to Social Media platforms like Facebook, WhatsApp, Twitter and YouTube saying that have content they consider to be harmful causing people to protest against the zim-government. Using VPN helps people to overcome such the restrictions.