The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Slamm Technologies, Samuel Boateng has cautioned institutions against the use of pirated and illegally modified software applications for business operations as a means of protection against cyber-attacks.
According to him, the use of such applications, whilst considered as a cost-cutting measure, would be very dear in the long-run as it provides a pathway for criminal elements to gain access to systems and the data embedded in them at greater ease.
“There are a lot of data vulnerabilities on the networks of companies and even some banks. Some of these vulnerabilities come as a result of companies using pirated and illegally modified software applications instead of purchasing authentic copies. They then break the product key so that they can use the application for free but what some do not know is that once the code is removed, the software becomes porous to attacks,” he said.
He made these comments in light of a rise in incidents of cyber-attacks as more people adopt digital solutions to curb the spread of COVID-19.
For instance, a report by Kaspersky Security Solutions revealed that about 28 million cyber-attacks and 102 million detections of potentially unwanted programmes like pornware and adware were recorded as of August 2020, especially in countries with budding business hubs. Furthermore, an institution such as the World Health Organisation (WHO) reported a more than 500% increase in cyber-attacks last year alone.
Closer home, the National Cyber Security Centre’s (NCSC) revealed that 11,545 cases had been reported between January and August last year through its Incident Reporting Point of Contact (POC). To him, poor cyber security knowledge and etiquette, negligence and complacency as well as greed and the ever-evolving modus operandi of criminal elements are chief factors responsible for the phenomenon.
To correct this, he encouraged the intensive internal training of information technology personnel of companies to enable them develop active access control measures and ensure that company data is restricted for use in the company and cannot be taken out by workers.
At the individual level, especially with mobile phones and tablets usage, he advised against downloading applications such as flashlights as they are notorious pathways for hackers. He also cautioned against side-loading of mobile applications, as well as opening links that are sent without knowing the source and unsecured Wi-Fi sharing, as all these can provide easier access to hackers.
Commenting on who is at risk of cyber-attack, he said, “Everyone is at risk of cybercrime; both individuals, government and private institutions so we have to all be on the look out and get involved in the fight. Our national security services, like the police and military, must be educated and trained on the security breach schemes and equipped to detect and track cybercrime activities.”
He added that fighting cybercrime requires active participation by all stakeholders, saying, “If the banking system, for instance, is breached, the government will not be spared, the individuals whose money were stolen from the bank will suffer as well, the banks will have their reputation in tatters and be saddled with debt and even businesses seeking capital from the banks will be impacted.”