Among other precautionary measures needed by individuals and firms to insulate themselves from falling prey to cyber crime in its various forms, stakeholders say cyber hygiene has become an important area that should be looked into to minimise N127 billion annual losses to cybercrimes. KUNLE AZEEZ and JOSEPH AGUMAGU report
Globally, as more access to Internet continues to grow, cases of cybercrime, in all its ramifications, are also becoming not only widespread but highly sophisticated. With Internet constituting an integral part of people’s daily activities today with boundless opportunities and unfettered access to different computer networks, the need to reduce risks associated with this nearpervasive Internet accessibility and availability through effective cyber hygiene has become exigent.
This has become particularly important as cyber criminals have become more innovative in their nefarious activities to prey on the negligence or ignorance of Internet users to fleece them or their hard-earned money.
What cyber hygiene is
According to experts, cyber hygiene is the establishment and maintenance of an individual’s the daily routines, occasional checks and general behaviours required to maintain a user’s online security. Such measures to be taken by individuals with high sense of cyber hygiene would typically include – but is not limited to – using a firewall, updating virus definitions, running security scans, selecting and maintaining passwords, updating software, backing-up data and securing personal data.
The industry experts note that a key aspect of cyber hygiene is that it relates to an individual, rather than a group or an organisation. As such, cyber hygiene is the responsibility of the individual, not the organisation, although corporate policies relating to cyber security may impinge on an individual’s cyber hygiene.
Nigeria is currently losing an estimated N127 billion annually to different cases and forms of cyber crimes, according to the Minister of Communication, Mr. Adebayo Shittu. In 2015, electronic fraud accounted for over N6 billion of the N127 billion and that year.
The Nigerian Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) report showed that the country suffered about 2,175 cyber attacks in 2015. Also, a total of 585 government-owned websites were among the 2,175 Nigeria websites hacked in the Office of the National Security Adviser.
About 14 per cent of the 97 million Internet users in Nigeria suffered cyber attacks, which the agency said had informed the decision to set up Cyber Security Committee towards tackling the issue of cyber crimes.
In a similar development in 2016, the Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr. Godwin Emefiele, said in a report that money lost to efraud by commercial banks through three major platforms of Automated Teller Machine (ATM), Internet banking mobile banking transactions stood N2.19 billion. While other losses were said to have come from e-commerce transactions, which stood at N132.25 million, while web deals was N83.77 million.
Also, security assessment carried out by Easy Solution Limited revealed that over 185 fake mobile applications had been deployed on the websites of 15 banks already with the fraudulent intention to steal by extracting customers’ personal and financial information.
With these frightening statistics emanating from the apex bank and other stakeholders in the industry staring at one in the face, analysts say it has become highly imperative to intensify awareness campaign among active Internet users.
Also, Chief Executive Officer of the Nigeria Interbank Settlement System Plc (NIBSS), Mr. Adebisi Shonubi, recently alluded to the susceptibility of banking customers to all forms of e-fraud and how they, themselves, are responsible for this. He said 80 to 90 per cent of efrauds successfully perpetuated in banks are caused by the customers, harping on the need for customers to be more circumspect as far as cyber security is concerned.
Regulatory bodies have also identified poor awareness as a major snag in the cyber crimes, necessitating them to, from time to time, reel out measures on how organisations and individuals can keep good cyber hygiene on their networks and mobile devices respectively.
For instance, when there was the breakout of WanaCry global cyber attacks about a year ago, the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) and the Nigerian Communications’ Commission (NCC) advised Nigerians to be aware of the spreading cyber attack while also rolling out precautionary measures needed to be taken by IT/telecoms service providers and their consumers both individuals and corporates.
“Remove the system from network; do not use flash/pen drive, external drives on the system to copy files to other systems; format the system completely and get fresh operating system (OS) copy installed; and contact NITDA Computer Emergency Readiness and Response Team (CERRT) for assistance,” Director-General of NITDA, Dr. Isa Pantami, said then.
To this end, President, Cyber Security Experts Association of Nigeria, Mr. Remi Afon, told New Telegraph by phone that said because many people were oblivious of the dangers of cyber security in Nigeria, intensifying awareness among the over 97 million Internet users in Nigeria has become imperative.
Traps to avoid
Speaking at a Cybersecurity Masterclass Training for ICT Journalists organised by Digital Encode in Lagos recently, a senior consultant of the company, Oyediji Simileoluwa, recommended three defensive strategies that would help individuals and organisations to fight the menace of cyber attacks effectively.
Giving some tips to avoid cyber attacks and cases of efrauds, Simileoluwa asked organisations to be preventive in their approach while also stressing a need to practice good password management.
“Use a strong mix of characters, and don’t use the same password for multiple sites. Don’t share your password with others,” he urged. Reports have also noted that there are a lot of freebees on the Internet many of which are booby-traps from unscrupulous elements to defraud unsuspecting internet user.
At a forum organised by the Centre for Cyber Awareness and Development (CECAD), a software developer formerly with Diamond Bank, Rock Adote also underscored the imperatives of cyber security and the need to maintain a solid culture of cyber hygiene.
Inculcating cyber hygiene culture
Also speaking at the CECAD event, President of Nigeria Internet Registration Association (NIRA), Mr. Sunday Folayan, reiterated the need for parents to start inculcating the culture of cyber hygiene in their children quite early in life as a result of the dynamism of cyber crime.
He said: “The easiest way to guarantee our children’s protection online is to preach cyber hygiene.
Cyber hygiene is simply the things we must diligently do so as not to fall prey to cyber-attacks. I urge the youths to rise up to the occasion by maintaining good hygiene on the Internet so as not to abuse their future. On the Internet you must learn and practice good cyber hygiene to ensure the safety of all.”
Industry pundits are of the view that the issue of cyber security must not be seen as the prerogative of government agencies and other organisations but rather, it should be the responsibility of every active Internet user through promotion of good cyber hygiene in order to stem the tide of cyber criminal activities and their attendant losses in the country.
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