As cybercrime spikes in COVID-19 era, firm recommends solutions

Companies have to be extra vigilant and should deploy proven cybersecurity measures.

Ajibola Akindele, GM Process Automation, Schneider Electric (West Africa)

This was made known at a just-concluded webinar organised by the Franco-Nigerian Chamber of Commerce and Industry with the theme: “Cybersecurity and process automation in today’s business environment”.

In his presentation, Obukohwo Obukonise, a Senior Systems and Cybersecurity Engineer at Schneider Electric, said that "an attack is any attempt to expose, alter, disable, destroy, steal or gain information through unauthorized access to, or make unauthorized use of an asset" in computers and computer networks.

Citing AV-Test.org May 2021 reports, Obukonise said that malware attacks in the last 7 years, rose from 470 million in 2015 to 1.2 billion in 2021.

Also, between 2020 and 2021, he said that the number rose from 1.1 billion to 1.2 billion. He attributed this rise to successes in previous year's attacks where attackers made a fortune and are now investing the monies into developing more sophisticated malware.

He said, "Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, there are lots of people and organisations who are now online. People and organisations now rely on cloud computing and IOT resources for their business model.

"So, there are so many targets on the internet. It is now easier for attackers to be able to compromise their targets. They have many options. Many people are online now because it is the norm."

On the reasons for cyberattacks, the Schneider Electric engineer identified hacktivism against government/organization, disgruntled employees against employers, cyber warfare, politically motivated attacks, financial gains, identity theft, and stealing of trade secret, as some of the reasons.

He listed ransomware, Denial of Service, Zero-day exploit, cloud data breaches, man-in-the-middle, phishing, and malware, as most common cyberattacks.

"Phishing is a fraudulent attempt to obtain sensitive information or data, by impersonating oneself as a trustworthy entity in a digital communication," Obukonise said.

On his part, Ajibola Akindele, the General Manager Sub-Saharan Africa, for Process Automation averred that Schneider Electric has assisted clients to create customised cybersecurity architecture solutions.

He said: "This isn't strange to us and we always recommend solutions that fit into companies' strategic plans.

"We have done it in Oil & Gas, Power, Utility, Manufacturing space and across several other industries. All that experience is being brought to bear now that cases have skyrocketed.

"It was Cybersecurity Ventures that predicted that cybercrime will annually cost the world US$10.5 trillion by 2025.

“Now, that's larger than the damage caused by natural disasters in a year; it’s even larger than the global trade of all major illegal drugs combined! So, this is serious and you don't want to be caught unawares”.

For Energy Companies and large industries, he recommended the deployment of web application security and anti-phishing software; deployment of anomaly detection, network intrusion detection, next generation firewall and SIEM; deployment of web server and application server encryption, 2FA authentication; and organising cyber security training and awareness workshop, as part of measures against phishing.

He also noted that the MSMEs aren’t spared. While some may find it challenging to acquire the necessary cybersecurity architecture, others might not clearly see the need. Mere awareness and regular update of apps are starting points to being secure in the cyber space, he recommended.

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