Rise of wannacry attacks put Nigeria on edge

by Jumoke Akiyode-Lawanson

January 1, 2018 | 6:28 pm
  |     |     |   Start Conversation

Pressure continues to rise for business organisations, especially telecommunications network operators who have been put on the edge of their sits to ensure optimum security from the tragic wannacry ransomware software attack.

Industry watchers say Nigerian telecommunication operators who are most susceptible to the recent outbreak of ‘Wanacry’, a ransomware virus have been seen to take specific preventive measures by increasing awareness and beefing up computer security.

“The outbreak will be most dangerous in Nigeria, as we are mobile first nation with over 93 million mobile phone internet subscribers as at October 2017 and well over 140 million mobile phone subscribers, so it will be a case of ‘hit one hit all’ if we are not careful,” Subomi Sodipo, an industry analyst told BusinessDay.

The dangerous virus is capable of causing incredibly damaging effects on Smartphones and personal computers by infecting and encrypting all files.

Since its outbreak in May 2017, the destructive virus which targets Microsoft Windows Operating Systems has infected more than 230,000 computers in 150 countries, with the software demanding ransom payments in the crypto currency Bitcoin in 28 different languages.

Experts say the attack will be more damaging in Nigeria with very minimal technical capabilities and cyber securities, even as the United States is currently battling with the after effects of the wannacry software compromise in many large enterprises and the government.

A few weeks ago, President Donald Trump’s administration publicly blamed North Korea for a ransomware attack that infected hundreds of thousands of computers worldwide in May and crippled parts of Britain’s National Health Service.

The BBC reported that Thomas Bossert, an aide to US President Donald Trump, first made the accusation in the Wall Street Journal newspaper saying that the allegation was “based on evidence”

Bossert said the administration’s finding of responsibility is based on evidence and confirmed by other governments and private companies, including the United Kingdom and Microsoft.

“The importance of cyber security cannot be over emphasized. Nigerian government would only be shooting itself on the foot if it chooses to ignore what is going on in the world,” Rommy Okonkwo, Country Manager, Check Point Nigeria, a software security solutions provider told BusinessDay in an interview.

On what it was doing to beef up computer system security, MTN, the largest mobile network operator in the country, with a subscriber base of over 50 million subscribers told BusinessDay that it was creating increased awareness of such attacks to subscribers, deploying effective firewalls and training its staff.

“Protecting our subscribers is paramount in our operations and we are very aware of these dangerous system attacks and have warned our staff and subscribers via text and other meansto be very mindful of these threats,” our source said.

The Nigerian communications Commission (NCC) has advised mobile network operators to initiate regular assessment and audit of their cybersecurity readiness, saying that these attacks would mostly affect the operators.

In a statement sent to BusinessDay, Tony Ojobo, Director, Public Affairs, NCC, said; “The Commission will continue to provide more security training for our staff but all operatorsshould continue to ensure that their backup and disaster recovery strategies are in place and up to date.”

Ojobo also said that “the Commission has further advised all operators to ensure continued deployment of effective firewalls, login passwords and antivirus management regime and is working towards creating a link with the Cybersecurity Alert System on its website so that current information on global cyber threats and incidents could be immediately communicated to stakeholders.”

According to NCC, this situation still demands that proactive measures be taken by all players in the telecommunication eco-system to forestall the hazards of critical data loss, financial losses and ultimately network/business disruption.


Jumoke Akiyode-Lawanson


by Jumoke Akiyode-Lawanson

January 1, 2018 | 6:28 pm
  |     |     |   Start Conversation

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