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Brandish Publisher: Take cyber security campaign to grassroots Nigeria

Brandish Publisher: Take cyber security campaign to grassroots Nigeria

Mr. Ikem Okuhu, Publisher of Brandish, a Nigerian brands news portal has advised that cyber security awareness campaign be taken to grassroots Nigerians.

The Brandish Publisher told a cyber security forum in Lagos that the “digitally ignorant people in Nigeria” do not get as much help as they need in terms of awareness on cyber security, suggesting that stakeholders need to deepen campaign further to the grassroots.

Okuhu said this while presenting a paper titled ‘Cyber Ethics: Creating Norms and Awareness’ at the National Cyber Security Awareness Month (NASCAM) organised by the Centre for Cyber Awareness and Development (CECAD) Thursday at the Oriental Hotel in Lagos.

“The problem is that this issue is still an expert issue here when it is actually a mass issue. The conversation should have gone beyond that level yesterday because when you sit down and discuss the technology jargons that common people can’t relate with nothing changes”, he told the cyber security forum.

“We need to take this thing to a level where everybody can relate with it and that is because everything is going in that direction. But if we sit down to gather cyber security experts do discuss things, we are leaving out more than 98 percent of Nigerians still prone to attack,”, according to the Brandish Publisher.

People seeing looking at smartphones at a launch event in Lagos. Ikem Okuhu, Publisher of Brandish, says that with growing mobile phone usage, cyber security awareness campaign should be taken to grassroots Nigerians.

For that penetration of cyber security awareness to the grassroots people to happen, he suggested that Nigeria takes a look at the steps that America took in 2002 to improve security online by taking the campaign to parents in homes and teachers at schools.

“I read and I learnt that in 2002, President Bush announced the agenda to the US to increase security online. The style was to take it down home, to parents, to teachers so that from get go, as soon as you get into school, you would have started understanding that the excitement online, ease of doing things online comes at a cost, cost of exposure, cost of security, cost of safety and a lot of other things,” he told attendees at the cyber security forum in Lagos.

“So as you are growing you are learning how to protect yourself online, you don’t have to be a technology expert or cyber security expert to understand these things. President Bush went through the Attorney General and an active process was started and that was made to happen,” Okuhu added.

As he went further in his presentation, Okuhu tasked the experts and the government to ensure that active steps are taken to get the Nigerian masses informed about cyber security and also put it in a way they will understand it.

“Now I am looking at experts and government, what steps, I mean very active steps that will take this thing down to the very end of the grassroots? What steps are we taking to ensure that people are aware, to make sure that people know these things?

According to Okuhu, “if you go to the ATMs, you will see a lot of signs advising you. But most of these things, the way the information is structured, it is not easy for certain people to interact with; some of the people can’t even read very well. We have to come down to their level to make sure the discussion is in the language they understand and the engagements happen in places where it captures their frames of reference,” he added.

He highlighted copyright/downloading, hacking, cyberbullying, information manipulation and terrorism as some of the key issues involved in cyber security which as a matter of urgency need to be addressed by a cross segment of stakeholders.

It is a task which has been made even more difficult by the explosion of devices but one that must start taking shape for Nigeria and Nigerians to stay safe online, according to Okuhu.

In his words, “even at the point when the U.S. began these measures, we didn’t have device explosion like we have today. Everyone with a phone that is connectible to the Internet is prone to some of these attacks; even in banking transactions now with USSD codes you move money from your account to many places. So it has gone even lower away from smartphones. Once you have an ATM card, you are a potential victim. An email ID is also an exposure.”

Cross section of attendees seen at the cyber security awareness forum held in Lagos
Cross section of attendees seen at the cyber security awareness forum held in Lagos

Cyber security still remains an expert thing here, which generally makes the awareness very low, but the Nigerian government can do better and start taking the kind of ownership they should just like the U.S. example he cited, Okuhu added.

Also presenting a paper titled ‘Innovative Tools and Techniques to Develop Cyber Awareness and Solutions for Entry Level Staff to the Board Level’, Emmanuel Eze, Executive Director of Systemspecs said that some of the cyber crimes are committed knowingly or unknowingly.

Eze who was represented by Tayo Balogun mentioned movie download from sites that have been comprised, music download using proxifiers, phishing, identity theft and other non-monetary offences, such as creating and distributing viruses on other computers or posting confidential business information on the Internet as some of these crimes committed knowingly or unknowingly.

On cybercrime prevention responsibility matrix, Eze said the responsibility of the individuals include due diligence in transactions and due care on usage of electronic devices: ensuring that default passwords are disabled, rooting of electronic devices and respect for hard work and honesty.

The responsibility for corporates according to Eze, involves buying-in on cybersecurity at Executive management level, institute awareness training and entrenching of security culture as well as CSR-support public cyber security initiatives.

The government also has its own responsibility which include promulgation of applicable laws and regulation on cyber security.

“The Nigerian government should ensure that cybercrime laws addressing cyberbullying / hacktivism is enacted and also create an enabling environment for corporate,” Eze added.

Speaking further, the Systemspecs ED said that cybercrime prevention can be straight-forward – when armed with a little technical advice and common sense.

According to him, many attacks can be avoided through these ways: Keeping your computer current with the latest patches and updates; making sure your computer is configured securely and choosing strong passwords and keeping them safe.

Other measures include protecting your computer with security software, protecting your personal information, declining online offers that look too good to be true and reviewing bank and credit card statements regularly.

Eze concluded that “it is important for the government and security agencies to work hand in hand to keep up with technological and security advancements in order to be able to play their parts appropriately, just as corporates, individuals and other stakeholders need to constantly play their parts as well.”

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Donatus Anichukwueze Technology Writer at Technology Times Media e-mail: donatus.anichukwueze@technologytimes.ng

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