The advent of the Internet of Things devices has brought about an increase in the risk of cyberattacks to industrial and manufacturing businesses including individuals. Year-in-year-out, several cases of cyberattacks are reported globally and they record monetary losses.
The Nigerian Communications Commission reports that yearly, Nigeria loses $500m to cybercrime. A global cybersecurity firm, Sophos, reports a 22 per cent increase in ransomware attacks on small businesses in 2021. It adds that $706.452 was paid as ransom to cybercriminals. Kaspersky also reports that between January to June 2021, Nigeria recorded 16.7 million cases of cyberattacks.
These attacks span mobile devices, bank accounts, emails, computers, cars and most internet-enabled devices. Despite several defences, reports state that cybercriminals now use Artificial Intelligence and machine learning to bypass them.
Recently, the National Information Technology Development Agency warned of an ongoing cyberattack on users of Apple products. The sinister activities of cybercriminals call for carefulness and knowledge on how to protect one’s gadgets from cyberattacks. Below are eight ways to protect one’s gadgets.
Install correct OS
A technology policy analyst, data protection and cybersecurity lawyer, Moses Faya, says that the correct operating system of whatever device in use should be installed. He adds that failure to do so can make such a device prone to cyber attackers.
“Sometimes, for the laptops, you see many people install the crack version instead of the original windows version. Some people will change the core aspect of their devices. It is important to install the original operating system of the device. Also, use the confirmed software instead of getting the raw file from someone and installing it on your device.” Faya notes. He warns against downloading cracked or fake versions of applications from application stores or installing extensions got from others.
Don’t download unwanted apps
The cybersecurity expert advises that apps should be downloaded only from trusted stores and unwanted apps should be discarded.
Faya states, “All apps should not be trusted. Before you download an app, be sure you truly need it. There are some apps that before you use them would request access to your pictures, and microphone. If it is not necessary, don’t give it access and if you don’t need the app, don’t download it.”
Also, a cybersecurity manager & data protection officer, Philip Aiwekhoe, warns that some apps and software can be spyware and malicious. He advises against installing unwanted applications and software.
Use strong passwords or biometric
Aiwekhoe says that password or biometric access to one’s device is “important to prevent unauthorised access to your gadgets and to protect your data. Ensure the default password and credentials for devices are changed as they could be a soft spot for any cyber attack.”
Faya adds that a strong password for devices will prevent access to one’s emails, important files and documents. He further states that it would thwart the efforts of remote hackers on one’s vital applications and accounts.
Turn off unused Wi-Fi, bluetooth
Wireless internet connections to devices can put devices at risk of cyberattacks. Faya and Aiwekhoe advise that bluetooth applications on phones and devices should be turned off when not in use.
Faya states, “You should not connect to any kind of Wi-Fi. If it is not trusted, don’t connect to it. Don’t always leave your bluetooth on. If you are not using it, turn it off because someone can have access to your device via your bluetooth and when connected to a public Wi-Fi.”
Aiwekhoe adds, “Always ensure your bluetooth and Wi-Fi are turned off when not in use as they can be an access point for attackers.”
Install good antivirus
Aiwekhoe states that an anti-malware solution for mobile devices helps to scan mobile devices for suspected malware and virus that could lead to data leakage.
Faya further explains the need to install antivirus both on one’s computer and mobile phones and when browsing the internet.
“There is the antivirus for devices and there is one that is for internet security. Internet security is to protect against viral attacks when browsing. Antivirus is not only meant for computers but it is also for phones and there are versions for it,” Faya states.
Regularly update software
Regular and periodic update of software ensures that devices are updated with the latest firmware. This will ensure that the vulnerabilities of the software are patched and updated with the latest security updates.
Aiwekhoe also advises that regular backup of data creates the opportunity to restore data to the most updated state in case of any attack.
Check privacy settings
Every gadget has privacy control settings. This setting, when turned on, ensures that one’s gadgets are protected from the risk of privacy breaches which can lead to cyberattacks.
Aiwekhoe further says that each app should be checked to determine its access and the level of permission to certain files and folders that can lead to cyberattacks.
Social engineering awareness
Faya warns that documents or files from untrusted sources should be scrutinised before use.
He says, “It is advisable to encrypt sensitive or confidential documents before sending them via email or storing them in an external device. This will discourage unwanted access to the documents. The passwords of such documents should not be sent or stored via email because when someone gets access to the email, then they get the password too. Also, use stronger passwords like the alphanumeric passwords, such as capital letters, numbers and symbols.”
He adds that files and links from unknown or suspicious emails should not be clicked on. Faya also advises that when charging devices in public places, they should be turned off and unplugged before being turned on for use.