Develop Your Cyber Hygiene Standards – MTN CIO

The escalated dependency on digital infrastructure resulting in more time spent online, the spread of the virus, fear and uncertainty in the midst of COVID-19, has created the productive ground for cybercrime experts to use sophisticated, complex and innovative tactics to stay ahead of their targets.

In a webinar presentation to members of the Ghana UK Chamber of Commerce dubbed, ‘The importance of Cyber Security during COVID-19’, Mr Bernard Acquah, Chief Information Officer of MTN Ghana, said COVID-19 has presented attackers with an opportunity to spread malware through emails that feed on concerns about the disease.

Some of the attacks include registration of new domain names containing wording related to coronavirus or COVID-19, and attacks against newly (and often rapidly) deployed remote access and teleworking infrastructure. He said, for instance, since the beginning of the year 2020 more than 4,000 coronavirus-related domains have been registered globally.

Mr Acquah urged Internet users, saying: “In addition to washing your hands after every physical contact to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and using an appropriate alcohol-based cleaning solution on your phone, keyboard, game controllers and remote controls, take the time to review your digital hygiene habits. Check that you have a long, complex router password for your home Wi-Fi and also ensure that system firewalls are active on your router. You have to ensure you are not reusing passwords across the web (a password manager is a great investment). Also, invest and strengthen your Spam Filters and use a reliable Virtual Private Network (VPN) for Internet access wherever possible.”

He couraged participants to pay attention to only trusted sources of information received concerning data on the spread of the COVID-19 virus and its impact. He said IT experts are encouraged to update their system software and applications regularly to patch any weaknesses that may be exploited.

The combat against cybersecurity threats in 2020 calls for the vigilance of System administrators with regard to the timeliness of patch deployments and quality of the patches they deploy. He said institutions will have to be wary of risks introduced by Work-From-Home arrangements and Internet-connected home tools that blur the lines in enterprise security – and more significantly, everyone needs to be aware of cyber-criminals and threat actors using machine learning and Artificial Intelligence to listen in on connected devices, such as smart TVs and speakers.

Staying digitally safe online in this season of COVID-19 is very important. It is also crucial to note that the myths of IT security do not help in enhancing cybersecurity.

Myths such as ‘Information security is just an IT issue’; ‘I have a MAC computer; they don’t get viruses’; ‘nobody wants to hack me! I’m not anybody important’; ‘my phone is safer than my computer or laptop because it can’t get hacked’; and ‘My Antivirus software on my computer is enough to protect me’ only makes one vulnerable to attacks and irreparable damages.

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