Why You Are The Next Target of Cyber Attack This Festivity Season 



Rarzack Olaegbe

It is not a cut-and-paste format. You need to understand the basics. Knowing the meaning of a strong password would not protect you. You need to understand how to create a strong password. A strong password cannot be guessed. It cannot be cracked with a brute force attack.

This is not a threat. You can be attacked. Your password may not be strong enough to rescue you. Or it may be too weak to withstand the stress test. Whatever it is you can be attacked tonight. If you are a cyber rat, you can be attacked at any time.

That is if you are not finicky about the information you dole out whenever you are online. For instance, your email address, your password, your credit card details, and your personal information can be combined by the threat actors to wreak havoc.

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You have sensitive data stored on your online accounts. You have assumed the data is secured. Because the custodian of the data told you so. Even if the platform is secured, your password is weak. How do I know? Three levels. You are not a techie. You are a bank customer. You have the habit of sending a third party to withdraw cash on your behalf.

This action exposes your password. What is your password? Bigmummy. You do not bother about creating a strong password. I am not sure if you have been schooled about choosing a password that no one can guess.  A password that is difficult to crack. A password that is easy for only you to remember.

Research has shown that there are loads of ways to create strong passwords. One way is using a unique password generator tool. You can use NordPass. It is one of the best password managers. With NordPass, each time you’re creating a new account you can automatically generate passwords. It will instantly save your password in a secure vault.

I have been using Bigmummy before you started writing a newspaper column. Who are you to teach me how to create a strong password? Teacher-without-a-license, what is a strong password? Hmm.  It is not a cut-and-paste format. You need to understand the basics. Knowing the meaning of a strong password would not protect you. You need to understand how to create a strong password. That is the bottom line, ma. Well, for this exercise, let us share the meaning of a strong password.  A strong password cannot be guessed. It cannot be cracked with a brute force attack.

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Is this why you are running your mouth? Forgive me, ma. The objective is information dissemination. Information that would protect your data. Protect your money. Protect your valuables. Ok, Mr. Information Dissemination, what do I need to do to protect my money? That is the bottom line, as you have said.

You are appreciated ma. Research has shown that you need a strong password. Because hackers use computers to try various combinations of letters, numbers, and symbols in search of the right password. With the latest high technology, a hacker can use high-end computers to crack short passwords. Short passwords have only letters and numbers. For instance, Bigmummy. This is a short password. Hackers would break this instantly. And cart away your money. Or your data.

To avoid this, I recommend a strong password. A strong password consists of a combination of uppercase and lowercase letters. And numbers. And special symbols. A strong password is usually 12 characters long. Wait, Mr. Information Dissemination. What is 12 characters long? How can I get 12 characters? Why? Ok, ma, I will get there. If you cannot generate 12 characters, you can have one strong password that is longer. For instance, big mummy is moving to the next level.

Research has shown that the longer your password is, the better. Passwords are like the lock on your apartment door. If your lock is weak, criminals would have it easy. So, if you have a weak password, it’s like a weak lock. With a weak password, the number of people that can access your accounts increases. The last time you changed your ATM generic personal identification number was four years ago. You have not changed it since then. That is not too good.

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Come, Information Minister. Do you mean I must get a strong password? And change it every four years? Ok, ma. It is not compulsory. It is a recommendation. Hmmm, why? According to research…. Must you always refer to research? Yes, ma. It validates my statements. Hmm. Ok, ma. In its research, Boston Consulting Group said the financial firms are more likely to experience cyberattacks. This is because of the interconnectivity of banks. As such the spill-over effect of cyberattacks could be great. The report maintains that a cyberattack on any of the five most active banks in the USA could affect 38% of the network. By extension, bank customers have nothing to lose from cyberattacks on banks if they have to safeguard their information. That is if customers have strong passwords to protect their privacy and funds.

Cybersecurity is a top concern for banks. Customers may be able to recover their money. But the cyberattacks could render some banks insolvent. Or create panic in the system. And put pressure on the banks. Data protect, a Morocco-based firm, shows in its report that banks in sub-Saharan Africa are under-protected. It says more than 85% of the financial institutions reported that they have already fallen victim to at least one cyberattack resulting in losses. Thirty percent of these cyberattacks involved bank card fraud. Others involved phishing. That is sending emails with the intention of tricking you into providing your personal information.

Dataprotect says the banks are impacted by information leakage, identity theft and money transfer. I have to mention this. Because I know you are always making online transfers as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. “African banks are dealing with professional criminals”, Ali El Azzouzi says. Who is Ali? Oh, sorry.

He is the founder of Dataprotect. Ali adds that the banks are not making enough investment in cybersecurity. He points out that cybersecurity investment must be proportional to the information risk incurred by the business. “Companies in the financial sector are most at risk”.

In short, you need a strong password. On the need to change it every four years, well, you can take that with a pinch of salt. Thank you, Information Minister. One more thing, please. What is that? You have not learned how to create a strong password yet. Passwords that consist of mixed characters are harder to crack.

Do not use your personal information. Like Bigmummy. Or birthdate. Or… I understand! Ok, ma. If you have many accounts, create different strong passwords. You are joking, right? No, ma. How do you expect me to have five different strong passwords for five accounts? May I show you, please? You have my permission.

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Photo by Tima Miroshnichenko from Pexels

To create a strong password, use scenarios. For instance, use our relationship to create a password. “My cousin has taught me how to create a strong password at home”. You can turn this statement into a strong password when you create random combinations. Thus: Mch2mh2casp@h. That is a very strong password!  Please, note.

Don’t use common phrases. Dictionary attacks can pick it up. What you need is a random combination. Oga, Information Minister, you deserve a big hug! Does that mean with a strong password, I can avoid cyber attack? It depends. Is that a threat? No, it is a strong password!


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