Cyber security has taken a front burner and has been among the biggest challenges facing the world today. It featured prominently in the recently concluded elections in the United States of Americas as well as the Gulf States brawl, where Qatar claimed that its server was hacked and an inappropriate content was then pushed out. Away from the way cyber security affects nations, businesses and individuals across the world are not left out, as every day, thousands of online accounts get compromised, one way or the other.

I was with Helen George, Cyber Security Awareness Trainer, a while ago and we had an interesting discussion on ways in which Nigeria can work towards keeping our cyber space safe.

Helen is definitely not satisfied with the current state of Nigeria’s cyber security. She is of the view that we are in the 21st century and Nigeria is still behaving as if we are in the Stone Age as far as cyber security is concerned, so, we need to step it up. She stated that we do not know whether or not Nigeria was affected by the recent Wanacry cyber-attack because we do not have a good recording system. “If we had a good recording system, if we had a good incidence response system in the country, we will know whether we are affected or not”, she opined.

One of Helen’s advice to individuals and businesses regarding cyber security is to have an Anti-virus installed on their computers and she considers this very crucial. She also said that online users should take advantage of 30 days free Anti-virus offers of most Anti-virus platforms. “You can, then, choose to either continue with them or sign up with another Anti-virus outfit after the expiration of the 30 free usage days”, she stated. Helen also advised the changing of Passwords often. One other advice she gave, was that people should create Guest Login on their computers to prevent just about anyone from gaining access to their files. She also, advocated for the installation of Firewall as well as making sure that all software applications are up to date. “This is where a lot of organisations fail. People just think that, once they have the software, they are god to go. You have to update. You have to make sure that your workers, your employees , that they are aware of these consequences that follows them leaving their computers  unlocked or the inserting of just any USB into their computer”, she emphasized.

Helen stated that there is a way one can completely lock down his/her computer’s USB connectors so that, not just anyone can have access to inserting a USB in that computer and this is a very good idea to follow.  She advised that each organization should have a good CMB, (Change Management Board). “Before anything is done on your system, you make sure that you go through proper a Change Management System, where every member of the organization will sit to discuss how the change will affect each system. This will be based on the roles being played by each member of the team”, she reiterated.

When asked to compare how cyber-attacks is dealt with in the USA and in Nigeria, Helen made it known that there was no basis for comparison. “In the US, once there is a kind of outbreak or compromise in an organization, you report that breach”, she stated.  She also said that there is coordination for research into solutions to breaches, vulnerabilities and future possibilities, especially, on what to do to mitigate the breaches or to better address it or prevent these from happening.

Helen was, however, emphatic in saying that there is no privacy in Nigeria. She stated that, even, an ordinary man, walking down the street does not know the meaning of privacy. “You want to have a conversation that involves your banking details, that involves your personal life and you are there on the phone, shouting about it?”, she retorted. She explained that, with you exposing your bank details, gives anyone around with an ulterior motive, to trail you until they hit you and steal from you. She stated that, people’s data are also not secured with third parties that require such details, such as the banks. “I went to a bank and while I was filling out my form, I was looking at other people’s data on the table. I could easily bring out my phone and take pictures of those other people’s data. That is a huge vulnerability out there and these vulnerabilities can be exploited”, she opined. She stated that. it is easy to assume other people’s identities that way and get away with it, e.g., using another person’s data to obtain a Driver’s License or even, taking a bank loan!

You can have as many privacy policies as possible, but if they are not enforced by the people that created them, it is useless she concluded.

You can view the full interview here and here

CFA is the Founder, & Co-producer/Presenter,Tech Trends on Channels Television


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