Cyber Security Awareness is a collaborative effort between government and industry to ensure organizations and individuals have the resources needed to stay safe and secure online while increasing the resilience of the nation against cyber threats. This awareness aims to inform the public of the importance of cyber security. All around the world, cyber security is a critical focus and Ghana is no exception.
Although connected devices or networks offer openings for innovation and modernization, it also presents opportunities for potential cybersecurity threats and attacks that can compromise your vital personal information. These actors aim to take advantage of flaws, low cyber security awareness, and technological developments to gain unlawful access to systems in order to breach victims’ data, devices, and networks. Understanding the devices and applications you use every day, and how cyber threats work is the first step in protecting yourself and your organization to help keep you and your information safe and secure.
How cyber threats affect you
An outlining sensation of the present times remaking the world as we know it, is the worldwide accessibility to the internet. The more connected we are in our homes, offices, and on the go, putting more of our information online, offers higher chances of becoming attractive targets for cyber threats. Our exposure increases with the upward number of Internet-connected devices – cars, mobile phones, televisions and smart home devices. Many individuals and organizations may be victims of cyber fraud and extortion attempts from cybercriminals using cyber tools as adware, ransomware, malware, password cracking, and phishing. Social engineering – the use of deception to manipulate individuals into disclosing confidential or personal information that may be used for fraudulent purposes – is also used to extort money or information from individuals and businesses. Cybercriminals are very good at getting personal information from unsuspecting victims, and the methods are getting more sophisticated as technology evolves. However, the good news is that, as the range of tools and techniques at the disposal of cybercriminals continue to increase, the different tools and techniques at the disposal of businesses, organizations and individuals can protect against even the most sophisticated attempts.
Protecting yourself online
You do not have to be an expert with an array of sophisticated tools at your disposal in order to protect yourself from cyber threats. Everyone is capable of adopting simple behaviours that can protect him or her from the most common cyber-attacks. You may already be aware of these behaviours, but you underestimate their importance or you choose to ignore them because they are inconvenient. Although you may also be confused due to the vast amount of security advice you receive, it is still necessary to stay protected by learning about security features available on the devices and software you use.
As an individual, your personal behaviour online is just that – personal. Managing your accounts, or what level of security you choose to implement is your choice, but at the very least, it should be a well-informed choice such as the below simple steps to put into practice, and very effective when implemented together.
- Practice good password etiquette
- Use strong password to include numbers, symbols, alphanumeric characters and not less than 8 characters.
- Don’t write down your passwords
- Use different passwords for different systems or accounts
- Do not share your passwords with anyone
- Consider using long password or passphrase acceptable.
- Use password managers to generate and remember different, complex passwords for each of your accounts.
- Apply additional layers of security to your devices – like Multi-Factor Authentication
- Accept updates to your mobile devices, computers, and applications. If you connect, you must protect. Whether it is your computer, smartphone, or other network devices, the best defense against threats and attacks is to update to the latest security software, web browser, and operating systems.
- Be on guard for phishing messages – Trust not.
- Every click, share, send, and post you make creates a digital trail that can be exploited by cybercriminals. To protect yourself, you must understand, secure, and maintain your digital profile.
Protecting your small business
Getting online allows you to reach new customers and grow your business. Even without a website or a social media account, you depend on the Internet for everyday business operations like banking, or ordering supplies. Thus, being online requires being safe and secure. As a small or medium business, it is easy to think that you are too small to warrant the attention of cyber criminals. Cyber security is a shared responsibility. You certainly owe it to yourself and your customers to make cyber security a priority. Working with other business owners and partners across industry and government is a great way to ensure a more cyber safe future for everyone.
Government, industry, academia, and civil society must all work together to strengthen Ghana’s cyber security awareness and readiness. We must secure valuable information that is critical to our health, economy, and security. These are the target of cybercriminals. We must work together to strengthen our resilience and we must build a community, where information sharing is the default and where we prioritize the security of all of our structures.
Author: Richard Kafui Amanfu – (Director of Operations, Institute of ICT Professionals, Ghana)
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