Ugandan firms have been warned to brace themselves for increased risks of cyber-attacks as scammers deploy new tactics and malicious software.
In a session on cybersecurity organized on Saturday at Clarke International University (CIU) in Namuwongo, Kampala, which was geared towards motivating practitioners to take up programmes in cybersecurity, experts warned that businesses risk losing millions of shillings in a new wave of cyber-attacks unless they invest more in their security systems.
Mr. Steven Twinomugisha, the CIU Web and Content Master said that businesses should constantly keep gaining knowledge on how to protect their systems since the hackers are always acquiring new destructive skills.
“The more you upgrade your security is the more attackers upgrade their tricks,” said Twinomugisha, calling for the continuous adoption of systems to offset hackers and online scammers.
Apart from business entities like DFCU bank which was reportedly hacked last year, we’ve recently seen hackers attack social media accounts of renowned influencers and celebrities like Jose Chameleone, Zari Hassan, Anne Kansiime among others.
The session also came days after the Governor Bank of Uganda (BOU), Prof. Emmanuel Tumusiime –Mutebile advised commercial banks to take up tighter security measures to avoid data breaches since they top the list of cyber-attack victims.
The session was attended by people from diverse professional fields, including nursing, website designers, engineers, librarians and IT professionals.
Some of the key issues discussed were the relevance of cybersecurity in today’s organizations, how to anticipate cyber-attacks and neutralize them, the future of cyber-security in Uganda and the professional careers that are opening up as a result of companies taking proactive measures to secure their data.
Mr. Justus Nuwagaba, who is among the only three certified Cisco-Cyber Operations instructors in Uganda said that due to the increasing cyber threats, almost all companies need cyber professionals.
“Currently, there is a Director of Cyber Security operations at NIRA which is outstanding because five years ago we never thought such positions would open up,” Nuwagaba said.
In 2017, a report from Serianu, a Pan African cyber security consulting and training firm revealed that Uganda lost close to Shs151 b ($42m) to cybercriminals alone. The report is proof that companies have to continuously invest heavily in protecting their data through hiring professionals in this filed.
The Cisco Networking Academy at Clarke International University is the first to offer the much sought-after CCNA Cybersecurity Operations course. Uganda has only three CCNA Cybersecurity Operations instructors one of whom will deliver the course at the CIU Cisco Networking Academy.
Robert Tuhaise, the Deputy Head Center for Innovation and Professional Skills Development at the College of Computing and Information Sciences, Makerere University said this is an opportunity for people to get certified because employers are now looking for people who already have the knowledge in cybersecurity.
He further explained that having these various certifications in cybersecurity opens up limitless opportunities in today’s job market.
Cyber-crime in Uganda is on the rise and the existing laws that govern online fraud include The Electronic Transaction Act, Computer Misuse Act, and Electronic Signatures Act. These are partially effective but learning how to prevent the data breaches from happening is always better than dealing with a loss of information and filing various lawsuits.
Basic tips on cyber threats
Millions of individuals and businesses lose control of their online platforms every second due to attacks from hackers. Hacking is a reality and it concerns everyone.
In order to avoid being hacked, ensure that the software on your gadgets is updated; updating your software gives you more security features to protect your accounts. This could be on your phone, tab or laptop or desktop.
Set passwords on all your devices before one can access information or data stored on them. Avoid using your complete name or phone number as a password, set relatively a long password with mixed characters.
For those using high-end phones, tabs, laptops and other gadgets to move data from one device to another, make it a point to encrypt the data on your gadgets to prevent third parties from accessing the information.
Always backup your data that you have shared online; this is because hacking is not only to take over your online platforms but sometimes hackers can also crush your online platforms like a website and computer files with a virus. Do not lose data, just backup.
Create strong passwords for your online and database accounts, avoid using the same password for all your online platforms. Make it a point to routinely change your passwords at least every 3 months. Ensure to use passwords out of your daily experiences so as not to forget.
Set the duo authentication feature on all your online accounts from your email to all social media accounts. This will enable you to be in control of who signs into your platforms. This authentication sends you a text code on your phone every time someone logs-in.
Ensure to check on your credit card or Paypal accounts logins at least once every week, this is because if someone hacks into your email account, they can easily use the available information to log into your accounts. Keep this habit frequent.