The Ghana Chapter of the Internet Society funded and joined the global celebration of the Girls in ICT day on the 25th of April, 2019 in partnership with the Global Repository for Internet (GRIS) who were media partners.
The event which took place at the Advance Information Technology Institute- Kofi Annan Centre of Excellence (AITI-KACE) in Accra, Ghana was on the topic “ Security and Digital Privacy- Focus on Social Engineering” which was explained in a presentation by Ms Lily Edinam Botsyoe where she mentioned that social engineering was essentially hacking without code and the techniques were discussed extensively by a four (4) member panel.
Though the initiative was aimed at girls and women, the event saw men in attendance who showed massive support for the agenda and shared their views on the issue at hand whilst encouraging more women to pursue careers in IT.
The workshop provided participants with a deep understanding of social engineering attack (human hacking), how it works so that they can view it as any other serious attack method, and what they can do to protect themselves and their organizations. It took the form of a lecture that explained human hacking and a demonstration of the manipulative techniques used by the social engineer (cyber criminals). The situation in Ghana was covered by experts which included Prof. Nii Quaynor (“ Father of the Internet in Africa”, Chairman Ghana Dot Com), Mrs. Awo Aidam Amenyah ( Executive Director, Child Online Africa), Dr. Herbert Gustav Yankson (Head Cybercrime Unit, CID Ghana) and Mr. Eric Akumiah (Open Data Expert, Ministry of Communication- Ghana in a panel discussion.
In his opening remarks, Mr Marcus Adomey, President, ISOC Ghana said there was a common misconception that cyber criminal’s use only highly advanced tools and techniques to hack into people’s computers or accounts.
“This is simply not true. Cyber criminals have learnt that the easiest way to steal information, hack accounts or infect a system is by simply tricking users into making a mistake,” he added.
Mr Adomey said the 2015 report of a study by Vormetric showed that human error was the cause of 90 per cent of cyber breaches.
He said studies also showed about 70 per cent of information theft was tried out consciously or unconsciously from within the organization.
“Indeed, the weakest link, in most cases, is unfortunately the users themselves,” he said.
The panellists then took turns to throw more light on the topic and ultimately availing themselves as mentors to coach girls and women who want to venture into IT.
Mrs. Aidam shared how a very little security gap can be used by hackers to perpetuate heinous crimes. She advised against leaving laptop cameras opened when not in use and charging phones via USB ports on random computers. She went on to say that though there is no patch for a human mistake in cyber security, education and awareness creation could prevent a lot of people from falling victims of attacks.
Adding up to the discussion, Mr. Akumiah mentioned government interest and involvement in curbing cybercrimes whilst hinting at policies that is being discussed to further protect citizens.
The crux of the night was when Dr. Yankson described the extent of cybercrime in Ghana.
Dr Yankson said social engineering was something that had been taken for granted for a long time; adding that: “In this day and age, it is better to be on guard, especially women and girls”.
He said in 2018, statistics showed fraud, taking the first position within the cybercrime unit; stating that 60 per cent of their recorded cases was about fraud.
“Fraud is basically using deception and that is where social engineering comes in. If most of our cases are related to fraud, then they are based on all the different kinds of social engineering,” he said.
“Through social engineering, our ladies have things that guys wants to see, and about 98 to 99 per cent the indicators are that our ladies are taking a lot of pictures and that means, we have a lot of work to do.”
Dr Yankson also revealed that sextortion ranked third accounting for 15 per cent of all the cases.
“The threat to our cyber security in this country is through social engineering, and that is what we should be working on,” he added.
He disclosed that in 2018, Ghana lost 105 million dollars to cybercrime where fraud consisted 21 million dollars and sextortion 49,000 dollars.
Meaning that the total of about 22 million dollars was taken away from victims through social engineering.
The event ended with the ISOC President admonishing everyone to be intentional about their online engagements and sharing information that are not private or sensitive. He invited the audience to join the Internet Society which allows everyone the opportunity to add their voice to shaping the internet.
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Data Entry Person, Ghana Community Network Services Limited and Team Lead for Community Engagement, Hacklab Ghana