Essay on Keeping African Business Data Secure

tools to put out cyber attack fires
The topic of cybersecurity is starting to gain increased focus at different African events though awareness of the seriousness of the topic is still very low. There is still a false sense of belief that cybersecurity, which is the practice of keeping business assets safe, is an Information Technology (IT) issue that is the responsibility of only technical personnel.

Yet every employee can act as an entry point for cyber criminals, making cybersecurity every employees' responsibility. Thus, business executives have to realize that cybersecurity is a no longer an IT-department issue, but one that needs to be handled at the highest levels of every organization.

In addition, it is critical that the board and management understand the consequences of a cyber attack and provide resources to ensure that cyber attacks are quickly detected, mitigated and responded to, without causing catastrophic damage to the business.

For instance, at the eLearning Africa meeting, majority of the participants that showed interest were technical personnel and a few business owners, and this needs to change to include more board and management level executives. One way this can change is encourage business executives to take short free online self-paced courses from top universities that are curated to serve the needs of business executives.

As the saying goes, learning never stops – which is the discarding of old, though previously useful information to absorb and adopt new and better methods of doing things. For example, previously you took cash to a physical shop to buy an item, and now such situations are reduced when physical shops have moved on the Internet where you can browse diverse items for sale online, place an order and pay with a credit/debit card and get the ordered items delivered to your door.

Such knowledge and skills of purchasing items online are, for example, what you need to navigate the modern ages free online courses in solving modern issues, cybersecurity, logic, programming and business executive courses from top universities.

And with better knowledge and skills, you are in a stronger position to reduce impact of devastating cyber attacks. Popular methods cyber criminals use to get access to African business systems and data is through implanting password stealing malware on your devices when you click on every link that you receive via email, WhatsApp and social media accounts. Such malware steals you login details including administrator passwords that get sent to the attacker who uses the access to takeover your accounts and steal any sensitive data they contain.

To counter such attacks, is to become proactive in taking backups of your sensitive data and keep them offline away from the online attackers; put effort in practising to identify tricks cyber criminals use to fool you into downloading fake attachments; create simple company guidelines for employees; install critical updates on your mobile devices and business systems without delays; and when you get attacked, use the ransomware decryptors to unlock your data without paying huge ransoms.

None is immune to the consequences of crippling cyber attacks including nation states, such as Costa Rica where government declared state of emergency due to ransomware attack; financial institutions like the bank of Zambia whose systems were disrupted and diverse businesses that have been caught off-guard by ransomware attacks and after paying attackers, 60 percent going bankrupt including an educational institution that closed its doors after 150 years of operation.

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