Cyber security: What you need to know about online crimes

Monday December 2 2019


By Kenneth Walusimbi

The world is evolving at a great speed and there is need to protect data that we store. Many service providers enable us to keep vast amount of information with them but how safe is our data?
Very many stories have come up where people’s secret data has been revealed.
The information stored ranges from simple photos, videos that we store on our smart phones to financial information held on servers.
Recently, in the United States of America, a Russian hacker who used a banking Trojan called “NEVERQUEST” was sentenced to four years in jail.
Banks, financial institutions and people who hold different accounts with them are the victims of such.
Cyber attacks can work in a way that the malware is installed on a victim’s computer remotely through social media websites, spam email and phishing websites.
After installation, the hacker then diverts the user to their fraudulent website and the rest is a story to tell.
Various service providers offering storage services have come in place with lucrative deals regarding purchasing cheap storage space.
Many people in Uganda use their personal information in signing up for different portals both online and offline. But do you know what this information is used for after providing it besides the primary reason? The biggest percentage of the public does not know how to respond to spam email yet it is one of the easiest way cybercrimes are committed.
There are known spam email accounts which were blacklisted and can be from different sites such as “spamhaus.” It is always advisable to forward any suspicious email to your information, Communication, and technology (ICT) administrator or to your service providers.
Replying to such email always makes the hacker to pick more interest in you; they interpret it as confirmation to access your system by having malwares remotely installed.
Some users go ahead to give in their personal information over the phone. There are some individuals who might disguise as employees of a financial institution and trick you to provide them with your account information.
Once this is done, next you will see a message on your mobile phone or email alerting you that you have successfully withdrawn a certain amount of money from your account.
This has driven many people crazy with some attacking financial institutions.
Amid all of this, there is help and many ways on how we should prevent ourselves from being hit by hackers.
First, make sure you have a firewall set up in your organisation and avoid opening source firewalls because they have breaches which are widely known and used by the malicious personnel. Make sure you use strong passwords that are a combination of characters and numbers (alphanumeric),always make sure you do not use the same password on multiple sites without forgetting to regularly change them.
Manage your social media accounts by turning on information protection settings, if not done, social engineering can easily be done and information retrieved from your account. Do not reply emails when you are not sure of the sender.
Lastly, you need to know that you can be a victim at any time and incase it has happens to you, involve police and also alert National Information Technology Authority, the body that is responsible for handling such cybercrime.

Walusimbi is head of ICT department at Vienna College Namugongo