Globally, the month of October has been dedicated to the creation and increasing of awareness on cybersecurity for governments, organizations, businesses, schools, students, netizens and mostly for the general public with Ghana not an exception of this global campaign.
During this month, governments and its mandatory institutions, collaborating agencies, partners and stakeholders comes together to embark on a holistic and comprehensive cybersecurity awareness crusade through seminars, workshops, conferences, lectures, presentation of research papers, media publicities and social gathering events, with all these activities geared towards increasing the level of knowledge and understanding on this critical area of global interest for society. It is therefore precise but not topsy – turvy to allude that the synonym for October is Cybersecurity Awareness.
Never in the life of mankind has the use of computers and internet connected devices become so ubiquitous than this era of Covid-19 where everything has become internet - connected / cyberspace driven, our daily life activities from learning, working, trading, meeting, entertainment, religious fellowship among others are now executed and experienced on cyberspace, which has also been confronted with the issue of cybercrime. The wanton increase of cybercrime and its related offences on cyber users and its vicious effects on society makes the need for awareness creation on cybersecurity extremely paramount.
One of the most critical challenges facing the world today is the issue of cybercrime, in my view cybercrime can not be obliterated when listing 3 major global challenges. The 2020 internet crime report indicates information from 791,790 complaints of suspected internet crime, an increase of more than 300,000 complaints from 2019, with reported losses exceeding US$ 4.2billion. The figures here and other menacing effects of cybercrime on government, businesses, organizations and citizens namely; financial loss, information loss, security costs, defamation, psychological and emotional effects etc. warrants the need for concerted awareness campaigns.
Cybercrime can be defined as any crime where a cyber element has a considerable role in the commission of a criminal offence. - the cyber element includes internet, internet connected devices and information communication technology tools such as computers, tablets or smartphones.
Cybercrime takes two fronts that is technology – as – target, this is a crime that makes the cyber device or resource a target.
The second type is technology - as – instrument, this crime uses cyber devices to perpetuate cybercrime.
Well-known types of cybercrime include; using fake email messages to get personal information from internet users - phishing, Cyber Extortion, Cyberbullying, Online Impersonation, Sexting, Unauthorized System Access, Identity Theft, Virus Attacks and advance ones like Artificial Intelligence – powered Attacks and Ransomware, all these cybercrimes are on the ascendency and thus requires serious public sensitization for societal exposure on basic cybersecurity safety tips.
Cybersecurity has numerous definitions but the easiest to share for the purpose of October (cybersecurity awareness) is the protection of information communication technology devices and resources such computers, smartphones, servers, storages, networks, electronic systems and stored data from attacks that would steal it, corrupt it, delete it, defame it, alter it or hold it for ransom.
Cyber security covers application security, network security, operational and informational security, end-user education, disaster recovery, and business continuity.
The sophisticated nature of modern information technology devices and the term cybersecurity itself sometimes complicates the minds of the citizenry ( naiver technology users) and thus making it ambiguous for people to learn basic cybersecurity safety measures, however , cybersecurity can be as simple as knowing why you should not click on certain links, why you should not open certain websites, why you should not allow people to insert their USB devices into your system and why you should not post certain information about yourself on social media.
In wrapping up this piece, I will leave the public with simple mechanisms that can be practice to protect oneself from cybercrime, and these are;
Use a strong password to protect both your electronic devices and online accounts - a strong password involves using at least 8 characters with a combination of both uppercase and lowercase letters. A mixture of letters and numbers. Inclusion of at least one special character, e.g., @ #?], Avoid using one password to access multiple devices and accounts.
Keep Your Software Up to Date – patching outdated software both operating and application systems via automatic or regular software update helps remove critical vulnerabilities that hackers might use to access your devices.
Use antivirus – Antivirus is a software that can be used on PC’s, smartphones and tablets, it prevents, scan, detect and delete viruses from your device when installed, most antivirus software runs automatically in the background to provide real-time protection against virus attacks.
Enable multi-factor authentication - this should be a usual ritual security practice for everyone online today. Multi-factor authentication provides additional security to password protection. Enabling multi-factor authentication requires a user to provide a correct password and a second item to verify authenticity. For example, two-factor authentication may send a code to the provided phone number or email address when signing in. Failing to give the sent code, even with a correct password, denies access. Since only the legitimate account owners can access the authentication items, a malicious user can’t gain access.
Use or manage privacy settings – these are security tools or wizards engineered into social media accounts and other social sites to enable the user to control or allow who sees what information about you and your activities on timeline, privacy settings prevent social media phishers from tracking you.
Watch what you post - Protect your image on social networks. What you post online stays online forever. Think twice before posting pictures you wouldn’t want your parents or future employers to see.
In conclusion, Ghana is not left out in October (cybersecurity awareness), the general public especially users of cyberspace are entreated to follow the Cyber Security Awareness Month Campaign organized by the National Cyber Security Centre – Ghana to learn more about cybersecurity awareness.