Global Online Attack Raises Security Consciousness in Nigeria

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Emma Okonji

Following the increasing global cybercrime threats and the recent target on Nigerian banks by online hackers, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) last week alerted all telecoms operators (Telcos) and their respective subscribers of the recent outbreak of a Ransomware Virus known as “WannaCry.”

The NCC advised the operators and all subscribers to apply security measures that would help them avert the spread of the virus.

Director, Public Affairs at NCC, Mr. Tony Ojobo, said: “The Ransomware is capable of infecting and encrypting all files on a system or any smart device until an amount is paid for a decryption key, or other means of retrieval, which may lead to data loss, are used to recover the system as an alternative. This situation demands that proactive measures be taken by all players in the telecommunication eco-system to forestall the hazards of critical data loss, financial losses and ultimately network/business disruption.”

Weco Systems, an Information Technology (IT) security company, had also warned Nigerians to take caution of the latest ransomware. The company gave insight and proffered solution to such cyber-attacks.

According to the company, on Friday May 12, 2017, a major ransomware attack broke on the internet affecting many organisations across the globe reportedly including major telcoms companies, hospital systems and transportation companies. ‘WannaCry’, a ransomware variant is identified as the malware responsible for this attack. Once on your device, the malware takes control of targeted systems and then has the capability to scan heavily over TCP port 445 Server Message Block (SMB), spreading in a fashion similar to a worm, compromising hosts, encrypting files stored on them and then demanding a ransom payment in the form of Bitcoin.

It is important to note that this is not a threat that simply scans internal ranges to identify where to spread, rather it is also capable of spreading based on vulnerabilities it finds in other externally facing hosts across the internet.
The reason WannaCry is particularly effective is that it can spread laterally on the same network, automatically installing itself on other systems in the network without any end user involvement, the company said.

Meanwhile, security experts have warned of imminent comeback of another ransomware variant which would be more destructive than WannaCry and even more difficult to curtail.

Experts from the International Telecoms Union (ITU), the global body that regulates telecoms activities around the world, had also warned of more cyberattacks in the wake of ‘WannaCry’, among others.