Cyber Attacks on the Rise, Experts Warn

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By Emma Okonji

Cybersecurity experts have raised the alarm that cyber attacks on organisations was on the increase, with a possibility to cause a global financial loss of $1 trillion in the next few years, up from the $5.3 billion global loss recorded in 2017 and $9 billion in 2018.

Cybersecurity experts who spoke at a breakfast meeting in Lagos, organised by PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PWC), said the number of high profile security breaches and cyber attacks was growing each year, forcing businesses under enormous pressure to take proactive steps to minimise the chance of a cybersecurity breach and when compromised, to slow the attackers’ progress, and react quickly and efficiently to reduce the impact of the crime.

Lead Partner, PWC Cyber Africa, Mr. Kris Budnik, who has over 18 years experience in cybersecurity, called on organisations operating in the oil and gas industry to take proactive measures in mitigating cyber attacks, saying the attackers now concentrate more on Operational Technology (OT) and Information Technology (IT) environment of an organisation to gain unauthorised access to organisation’s data.

He said recent survey showed that 59 per cent of staff in organisations believed there was greater risk in OT and IT environment, while 61 per cent also held the view that there was greater risk in inadequate system of an organisation.

He blamed cybersecurity vulnerability of organisations on lack of cyber security awareness on the part of the staff, the use of standard IT products with known vulnerabilities in production environment, limited cybersecurity culture, insufficient separation of data network, use of vulnerable software, among others.

Also, the Lead Partner, Risk Assurance Service Unit at PWC, Mrs. Wunmi Adetokunbo-Ajayi, said just as global cyber attacks were on the increase, cyber attacks on businesses within Nigeria was also on the rise.

She however decried lack of data to ascertain the true financial losses recorded by Nigerian organisations on a yearly basis.

She said several organisations and individuals in Nigeria had suffered a great deal of financial losses to cyber attacks, and called for stringent measures and the adoption of the right technology solution to mitigate such attacks.

Identifying email spoofing as major source of cyber attacks, Adetokunbo-Ajayi called on organisations’ CEOs, CFOs and IT managers to take cautious steps in protecting corporate emails.

The Chief Economist and Advisory Lead at PWC, Dr. Andrew Nevin, spoke on blockchain technology that enables exchange between parties, without having an intermediary.

PWC is of the view that in order to maximise cyber-resilience, companies must identify and address system vulnerabilities, gain control over high risk accounts, and put in place, robust event correlation, incident detection and response capabilities.