Cyber security: How safe are we?

The month of October was designated international Cyber Security Awareness Month (CSAM) in several countries around the world. Some activities took place in Rwanda to observe this month.
A person surfs the internet. (File)
A person surfs the internet. (File)

The month of October was designated international Cyber Security Awareness Month (CSAM) in several countries around the world.

Some activities took place  in Rwanda to observe this month.

CSAM is an annual campaign in which firms, institutions and countries engage the public to raise awareness on the importance of cyber security.

In the age of fast growing internet and information and communication technologies (ICTs), people, companies and countries are increasingly becoming more vulnerable to online fraud and threats.

In the month of October, many firms undertake to educate customers and employees on how to behave online and some of the best measures of staying safe on internet and on other digital platforms.

In Rwanda, I&M Bank is one of the financial institutions that have been active in this regard during the month, whereby officials at the bank embarked on enlightening customers on cyber security.

The institution also engaged employees on the importance of information security.

“We have highlighted the simple steps that can be taken to protect their data, whether personal, financial or professional. The main goal being to continue raising awareness, change behaviour and provide resources to all on how to protect themselves online,” says Jawahar Manickam, the Information Security Manager at I&M Bank Rwanda.

“We focused on how fraud attempts are permitted to manifest in the first place, because once they begin, the effort required to resolve them often resonates through to the customer. Blocking fraud from entering the system is the most efficient means of preventing it.”

According to Manickam, this year it was noted that banks around the world were having to ‘fend off’ several cyber-attacks every single day, and the WannaCry attack resulted in a number of high-level data breaches, including hospitals, government entities and banks with an estimated $120 billion being stolen.

He says that many banks have experienced an increase in online fraud  through internet banking, scams via mobile banking and malware that can grind business operations to a halt.

According to experts, today, institutions are  changing focus from physical assets to paying more attention to information and data, which many believe are the most valuable assets of the 21st century.

There is need for firms to devise new ways to come up with tools and measures that help protect and secure not just them but also their customers from increasing threats.

“By taking an active role in communities in this regard, we all help to build a culture of cyber security. Cyber security is a shared responsibility, one in which Rwandans, their government, the private sector, education actors  and our international partners all play a role,” says Emmanuel Dusenge, an expert at Inmarsat.

Creating solutions

According to Kevine Bajeneza, the chief operating officer at Cyberteq, one of the leading private companies that provide cyber security solutions in Rwanda, there is limited awareness in many organisations about cyber security.

“Cybersecurity is still regarded as a responsibility of IT practitioners yet  everyone is supposed to play a role. Limited cyber security capacity and low levels of investment in cyber security measures is another issue,” she said.

She says that firms need to build internal capacities as well as define appropriate security measures and consider it as a priority in an era where security trends are becoming worrisome.

The firm recently developed a Cyber Security Framework to engage organisations and encourage them to prioritise cyber security and undertake measures to achieve compliance and secure businesses.

The framework allows firms to assess and reduce vulnerabilities and manage the risks.