• Saturday, June 22, 2024
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Keeping users steps ahead of cyberattacks, Cisco offers connectivity without compromise


At his home on a warm, bright afternoon, Olu talks over the phone to the police about an unfamiliar activity that took place on his corporate bank account. “I had received an email about donating towards the COVID-19 relief funds…” he paused; it seemed a cloud appeared above him with drops of realization. He then exclaimed, “My online identity has been hacked!”.

Forty-five year old Olu, who is also the managing partner at a top architectural firm in Nigeria, may sound more extreme than expected, but go about just anywhere in the world right now and there will be trickles of reports about people experiencing cyber attacks. With weeks of lockdown rules tucked into the lives of people globally due to the coronavirus pandemic, an opportunity has risen for cybercriminals to focus more on innovative methods.

The global coronavirus crisis has dislocated the existing state of affairs; individuals and businesses are now managing operations remotely with a heavy reliance on digital tools for easy connectivity and collaboration to achieve business goals. This and not to mention the uncertainty and fear of the pandemic, has created a rising threat in the cyber space.

Cyber security is beyond the standards of simply using a sophisticated device, it is the practice of protecting devices, networks and programs from digital attacks, which are aimed at accessing, changing or destroying delicate data and information; extracting money from users or simply disrupting regular business procedures.

There are various cyber security threats; the most common is the practice of sending emails that look like mails from reputable organizations, this is known as Phishing and the aim is to get sensitive data such as credit card numbers and login information. Another type of threat is Malware which is a software built to gain unauthorized access and damage to computers. The current tactic which some may be experiencing during this pandemic is Social Engineering – where people are tricked into revealing sensitive information. Ultimately, social engineering is used when cybercriminals are seeking payment for a cause or to gain access to private banking data. A lot of times, a combination of all these threats are used for a particular user and unless there are certain measures in place, the user will most likely fall victim.

Implementing effective cyber security measures could be challenging in today’s world, however, users seemingly have an understanding of basic data security principles such as choosing strong, hard-to-guess passwords, being cautious of clicking links or opening attachments within emails, making sure devices are not left unattended and of course, backing up data frequently. A few days into the current COVID-19 lockdown being implemented, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) issued a warning on the ongoing trend of cybercriminals who are deploying several techniques to retrieve sensitive data and gain unauthorized access to computers and mobile devices of citizens. The CBN urged people to disregard any emails or messages sent on behalf of health organizations and should also be conscientious of browsing sites and social networks.

Even raising more security concerns, is video and teleconferencing tools being used as major communication channels. Assuredly, they are effective tools, which guarantee fast and simple connectivity amongst individuals or businesses especially with the confinement measures in place due to the pandemic; however, one might also wonder how data security is guaranteed.

With the myriad of video and teleconferencing apps in demand right now, many, without realizing, by acquiring these apps, may have opened a gateway for cybercriminals to access their personal data. The true question lies in the fact that every business or individual requires a solution that guarantees long-term security benefits which will be used on a regular basis. For decades, global technology leader, Cisco, has been a part of this journey of delivering effective security solutions to individuals and businesses.

Cisco’s cyber security technology is designed to protect computers, smart devices, network and data centres, web and email systems and the cloud. It’s cyber security combination is backed by an approach which provides easy and accurate detection of an attack, stops the threats before, during and after the attacks and supports new capabilities for devices. The technology also transcends to delivering simplified cloud protection with the Cisco Umbrella and DUO Security offering.

The Umbrella combines multiple security functions into a single cloud security solution which extends protection features to devices, remote users and distributed locations anywhere; ultimately Umbrella is the most flexible and simple way businesses can secure users everywhere without the need for physical configuration.

Still on the tracks of cloud-based security, the DUO features trusted access solutions for users to protect all applications and data no matter how large. Essentially, an organisation’s journey with the DUO Security would include: verification of user identities with a two-factor authentication feature; endpoint visibility that shows all the devices used to access corporate applications; real time inspection of all devices to ensure trustworthiness. Also, enforcement of risk-based and adaptive access policies and a secured user permission to access all protected applications (on-premises or cloud-based) through a uniform, frictionless interface accessible from anywhere.

In addition, Cisco’s Webex tools for videoconferencing, which is backed by Cisco’s rich history of cyber security, is built with end-to-end security to ensure that all participants can communicate and connect freely with privacy features in place. Even more, the Webex tool drives consumer preference with its safe and easy-to-use functionalities; Webex can be downloaded easily from the site and also found on the iOS Appstore and Google Play Store or Amazon Appstore for Android. Webex meetings permit up to 100 participants with features including HD video, screen sharing and a personal room. Ultimately sitting at the core of the Webex tool is Cisco’s solid security component, which allows organizations to connect and collaborate without compromise.

There is no question that cyber security is so important in today’s highly connected world, especially in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. An attack by cybercriminals can indeed affect operations of businesses and organizations by causing long-term harm such as identity theft, to extorting money and loss of important data. However, Cisco prepares the world with its range of overall strong security functions especially with its communication tool, Webex.


Oloruntimehin is the General Manager for Cisco, Nigeria