Severe Cyber Attacks on Financial Institutions Will Cause Economic Dislocation, Business Disruption, CBN Warns

Emma Okonji

Conscious of the devastating effect of severe cyber attacks on financial institutions and businesses, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), has advised banks and other financial institutions, including businesses and organisations, to put safety measures in place that will guard against cyber attacks.

The Director, Payment Systems Management at CBN, Mr. Jimoh Musa, gave the advice on Tuesday during a webinar, organised by the Information Security Society of Africa-Nigeria (ISSAN), with the theme: ‘Securing Cyberspace To Enable Emerging Business Realities.’

According to him, financial institutions must be ready at all times to prevent cyberattacks on their networks, because the attackers would not stop at anything in launching online attacks.
“Cyberattacks can lead to economic dislocation and business disruptions, while disruption in business could lead to data compromise and organisational downtime,” Musa said.

He however advised on timely information sharing by affected banks among financial institutions, addressing insider compromise, as well as carrying out regular capacity building programmes that will keep staff abreast of cyber attacks.

President of ISSAN, Dr. David Isiavwe, in his opening remarks, said cyber attacks on financial institutions and organisations, were on the rise and called on banks to be more proactive and to ensure full protection of the cyberspace in order to mitigate the effect of cyber attacks. Isiavwe therefore called for collaboration and information sharing among financial institutions, which he said, was key to securing the cyberspace that would enable emerging business realities.

The Director of Information Technology at CBN, Mrs. Rakiya Mohammed, who delivered the technical paper at the webinar, spoke on the many benefits of CBN’s Digital Currency, also known as eNaira, and the security features surrounding it that would lead to safe and seamless digital currency transactions in today’s digital era.

Mohammed who was represented by the Team Lead for Information Technology Research at CBN, Mr. Adiolu Fadele, spoke about the evolution of money, the emergence of digital currency and the need to safeguard eNaira during online transactions.

Special Agent, FBI Minneapolis, USA, Mr. Robert Cameron, who also delivered a keynote address, highlighted the need for a secured external communications between an organisation and software vendors, to avoid compromise of the software, years after purchase. Cameron in his keynote, also warned against underfunding of security networks, which he said could create network vulnerabilities that could weaken the network and expose it to cyber attacks. He stressed the need for organisations to hire the right personnel with the right technology skills that would help prevent malware or Distributed Denial of Service (DDOS) attacks, which he said, could disrupt the normal traffic of a targeted server.

“In an attempt to cut cost, most organisations may want to patronise software vendors whose software could cut down on operational cost, and at the same time, could be compromised in the long run to create more harm for the organisation. He said organisations must stay away from free downloadable software and unprotected Wireless Fidelity (WiFi) connectivity that could turn out to be source of malicious malware that would gain access to the organisation’s network.

Fielding questions at the end of the presentations about the security measures around eNaira that has just been launched by the CBN, Fadele assured participants at the webinar that since the eNaira is account-based, with a virtual wallet that gives users the access to control their money, it has all the security features that will make online financial transaction on eNaira safe, convenient and easy to access.

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