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Kaspersky Alerts Users to Mobile Wallet Safety Issues

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Kaspersky

By Adedapo Adesanya

Cybersecurity giant, Kaspersky, has stressed the importance of keeping mobile wallet safe in Africa as the continent continues to expand with many analysts considering the region to be the epicentre of the global market.

With more than $1.9 billion processed daily and over one billion registered accounts globally, mobile money is a massive industry.

Kaspersky, citing PayPal’s recent announcement that it will expand its Xoom money transfer service to more countries on the continent this year, makes it evident that there is still significant growth to come. But this also means that consumers must be aware of the security risks associated with mobile wallets and payments.

According to Kaspersky, as of 2019, there were 481 million registered mobile money accounts in Africa, making up 46 per cent of global accounts and with the COVID-19 pandemic resulting in lockdown conditions in many countries, more people have turned to mobile wallets instead of cash, as a safer option – from a hygiene perspective at least.

While cash has long been considered “king”, mobile money and e-wallets have been growing exponentially in Africa over the past decade – and as the number of international and African players enter and expand into new markets across the continent.

These provide a more user-friendly alternative to processing micro-payments and reduce the amount of cash people need to carry with them. And the expectation is that the region would exceed half a billion accounts by the end of 2020.

Speaking on this, Mr Bethwel Opil, Enterprise Sales Manager at Kaspersky in Africa warned, “While there is ample benefit to be gained from mobile money, spam, phishing, social engineering, and fraud all form part of the cyberattack landscape when it comes to this innovation.

“Threat actors are constantly coming up with more innovative tactics to compromise people’s wallets whether these pertain to traditional bank accounts or mobile wallets.”

“It is, therefore, imperative that consumers remain vigilant and apply common sense to their transactions and engagements with mobile money services,” he adds.

“Considering the significant growth and potential for mobile money and e-wallets, these payment platforms must maintain a high level of security and keep improving on it.

He noted that given the financial and reputational risk, no provider can afford to have its systems compromised.

“Security is only as strong as the weakest link in the chain d like all other digital solutions, this is often the end-user.

“Education is, therefore, the most critical component of mitigating the risk of social engineering compromises from people opening malicious links, sharing sensitive information, or falling foul of fraudulent schemes,” states Mr Opil.

To keep the mobile wallet safe, Kaspersky recommends that users should “avoid clicking on malicious emails, attachments, or other messages.”

“Users must lookout for red flags in communication from those purporting to be from service providers. For example, they need to be wary of grammatical mistakes, attempts to incite a sense of urgency or danger, e-mail addresses and links that differ from the official ones (even if just by one letter), and so on. Never trust messages unconditionally.

“It is imperative to check any potential issues through one’s personal account on the Website or in the mobile money app. This is especially important when it comes to messages confirming the crediting of funds,” it further recommended.

It also suggested that a user must also never use an unfamiliar delivery service especially when it comes to online purchases.

“Users must be careful of using alternative money transfer methods to the ones they are comfortable with. These are typically not covered by the protection programs of mobile money or money transfer applications.

“It goes without saying that users must never give out personal information beyond what is necessary for the transaction. This includes usernames and passwords.

“In many respects, it is still the ‘Wild West’ when it comes to mobile money and e-wallets. Even though the solutions are safely used by millions of people daily, hackers are always on the lookout for soft targets.

“Constant vigilance and education remain essential to safeguard against any potential compromises,” the cybersecurity firm said.

Adedapo Adesanya is a journalist, polymath, and connoisseur of everything art. When he is not writing, he has his nose buried in one of the many books or articles he has bookmarked or simply listening to good music with a bottle of beer or wine. He supports the greatest club in the world, Manchester United F.C.

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ICT Reporters Begin Digital Skills Training in Lagos

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ICT Reporters

By Ashemiriogwa Emmanuel

Journalists reporting information and communication technology (ICT) in Nigeria have commenced a 5-day digital skills training in Lagos to upgrade their knowledge of the field.

The seminar, which kicked off on Monday, October 18, is taking place at the Radisson Hotel in Ikeja, and it involves 50 ICT reporters under the aegis of the Nigeria Information Technology Reporters’ Association (NITRA). The programme is being supported by the National Information Technology Agency (NITDA)

Chairman of the NITRA, Mr Chike Onwuegbuchi, commended the agency for the support, saying he expects participants to develop the digital skills that will improve their quality of news reportage.

“It wise to partner with an agency of the government on this project, and NITDA being an outstanding agency deemed it wise to work with us,” he stated at the event today.

He urged members of NITRA to use the opportunity to learn, unlearn and relearn new skills, emphasising that, “The essence of this capacity training is for us to upskill.”

“We are aware that some of us have attended training within and outside Nigeria, however the dynamics of this industry where technology continues to evolve demands that we continue to train and retrain ourselves.

“NITDA has been apt in its digital transformation strategy and from our observations; the processes are up to standards we see among private sector organizations,” he further said.

On his part, the Director-General of NITDA, Mr Kashifu Inuwa Abdullahi, expressed optimism that the training will help ICT journalists in news gathering and fact-checking in this era of fake news.

The NITDA boss, represented by the Manager, Digital Architecture, Ms Chineyere Helen Nwanwko, noted that, “As most positions today require technological knowledge, organizations must provide training and education on ICT, or risk having a workforce being left behind.”

“Employees with digital literacy, skills are more competent in their work as they easily identify important information, data, patterns, and use them efficiently. This is important because we are constantly being disrupted by new information.

“Digital literacy skills also allow the workforce to use technology to collaborate and connect with each other and thus strengthen teamwork. In the digital economy, the failure to upskill the workforce in digital technologies could lead to companies and workforce being quickly left behind,” he added.

In his view, it is vital that businesses invest in nurturing a digitally literate workforce that is capable of adapting to evolving technologies. He also noted that the program corresponds with the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy (NDEPS).

According to him, this is also in line with the agency’s Digital Literacy and Skills and the Strategic Roadmap and Action Plan 2021 to 2024.

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Technology

MTN Nigeria Blames System Error for October 9 Outage

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Karl Toriola MTN Nigeria

By Adedapo Adesanya

MTN Nigeria has apologised to its subscribers, blaming the network outage experienced on Saturday, October 9 on a system error.

In a video message sent to Business Post on Sunday, the Chief Executive Officer of the company, Mr Karl Toriola, said the downtime was a result of system error from its end and not a result of sabotage as many feared, especially because it occurred a day after Facebook suffered a similar issue.

MTN users had October 9 experienced hours of network disruption, which affected calls and connections to the internet.

Mr Toriola explained that the technical team traced the cause of the downtime to an error that shifted all 4G customers to the 3G, overloading the band.

“Last Saturday, we had an outage that left our customers without a connection for several hours. On behalf of the entire MTN team, I want to start with a heartfelt apology. We are truly sorry for the disruption this caused for so many in our MTN family,” Mr Toriola said.

“We know that millions of people rely on us to stay connected to their loved ones, to manage their businesses, to coordinate their lives. We take that responsibility and privilege very seriously. That’s why we are putting new measures in place to make sure we never experience anything like last Saturday again.

“Our technical teams have traced the cause of the problem to an error that shifted all our 4G customers onto the 3G band. This overloaded the 3G band, causing a domino effect that impacted the whole network. Our engineers were able to resolve the problem.

“I know that recently other technology companies suffered outages. I want to reassure you that last Saturday’s event is in no way connected to those. This wasn’t [a] sabotage, it was a regrettable error,” the MTN chief added.

He further announced that MTN had refunded customers airtime and data used yesterday in addition to the time-bound subscription extension earlier promised.

He also assured users that MTN was working to ensure that they never experience such challenges with the network again.

“While we work to strengthen our network to prevent further disruptions of any kind, we wanted to find a way to say sorry. Something more than extending the validity of all time-bound plans by 24 hours, which we did as soon as service was restored,” he added.

“So, while we can’t give you back the time you lost last Saturday, we can give you back what you spent yesterday. Every customer on the MTN network has received a refund for the data and airtime that they used between 12 noon and 7 pm yesterday.

“We hope it shows how much we value our customers. You truly are our most important focus.

“We all have challenges, each and everyone, young or old, personally or professionally. What matters is how we respond. With you by our side, we will continue to improve and grow,” Mr Toriola stated.

This newspaper understands that many MTN users were given 1MB of data valid till October 31.

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FG Inaugurates Governing Boards to Fast Track Development

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Ogbonnaya Onu Governing Boards

By Sodeinde Temidayo David

In a bid to fast track the development of the country as well as overcome science, technology and innovation (STI) challenges, the federal government has inaugurated governing boards and councils of agencies or institutes under the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation.

Recall that recently, President Muhammadu Buhari approved the change of name of the Ministry of Science and Technology to STI in a bid to focus on ensuring the provision of STI-based solutions to overcome societal challenges.

On Thursday in Abuja, the Minister of STI, Mr Ogbonnaya Onu, during the inauguration, noted that in spite of the present challenges, his team was determined to break grounds by building a world-class ministry that would be the best in Africa and comparable with the best in the world.

However, he stressed that the team must work together efficiently to achieve this noble goal, as they are now in the path of repositioning and strengthening the Ministry to emphasize the desire to contribute to national development efforts of this administration to lift 100 million people out of poverty within the next decade.

According to Mr Onu, using the enormous power of STI, the focus will be on the development of abundant natural resources as well as the orderly exploitation of huge potentials of people and businesses.

The Minister further noted that the role assigned by the federal government on the ministry as custodian of all the fundamentals of innovations in Nigeria carries enormous responsibilities coupled with the recent change of name by the ministry.

“The new logo, vision and mission statement, our core values and critical success factors (CSF) would be unveiled very soon. A rebranded Ministry is emerging with implications for the commitment of all stakeholders within the STI ecosystem, especially the members of the various boards and councils of the Ministry.

“I employ you all to be diligent and unrelenting in the new journey to greater heights of service to our nation,” he noted.

The Minister also urged the governing boards and council members to familiarise themselves with the relevant instruments governing the operation and supervision of their respective agencies and institutes.

He expressed that the role and responsibilities of governing boards are stated in the relevant government circulars, laws, public service, administrative guidelines regulating the relationship with parastatals and government-owned companies.

In his remarks, Mr Micah Umoh, who represented the Chairman Senate Committee on Science, assured to give their full support to achieve the goal for the initiative.

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