October 29, 2019

Cyber crimes: U.S warns Nigerian against free WiFi at hotels, restaurants, airports

Cyber security

By Victoria Ojeme

The United States Embassy in Abuja has cautioned Nigerians against logging in to free WiFi services at public places as such networks are easy prey for cyber attackers.

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It also warned Nigerians against disclosing too much personal information on social media networks since Internet fraudsters cash-in on such data.

Ms Kathleen FitzGibbon, Chargé d’ affaires, U.S. Embassy, Nigeria said this while speaking with Journalists at the sideline of the Cybersecurity Awareness Seminar with the theme: “Own IT, Secure IT and Protect IT” held in Abuja.

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She added that the prosecution and convictions of Nigerians on the Cyber fraud list released by the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has commenced since September.

According to FitzGibbon, “the people on the list are all Nigerians because they are dealing with those in Nigeria” stating that the U.S government will do same in other countries.

“There have already been prosecutions in Nigeria for some of those people on the list, I believe in September they were actual prosecution and conviction of alot of those people.”

“You are only seeing these numbers from here because we are doing it here but there are other people around the world, we are doing it in other countries as well,” She said.

She said that the legal unit was working with the Nigeria security agencies, especially the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC for the enforcement.

She said that the use of Internet is paramount for professionals and students but “everyone must learn to consciously protect their presence on the internet, especially on all social media platforms.”

According to her, “some people reveal too much information on their platforms which give easy access to bad actors to carry out crimes with their details.”

She urged the students not to click on any site except the ones they know are secured.

She also warned against using free WiFi in some restaurants, hotel and airports, stating that though free, such Internet access could be dangerous when not secured.

FitzGibbon, however, tasked youths not to upload images on social media platforms that would affect their reputation in the future or put anyone’s image on social media platforms without their permission to do so.

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“The seminar is to create awareness on Cybersecurity for the youths, to secure and protect what they put out on internet. What you do now as a youth might be a little embarrassing later on in life. So, it is just to get people to think about managing their image on internet.”

“Internet is non-avoidable today, if you need to put anything on the internet you need to ensure that it is safe and the actual reflection of who you are,” she said.

Similarly, Heather Armstrong, an FBI agent in the Embassy said that Operation Security (OPSEC) is a process that is used to identify critical information outlines for potential threats and risks.

She said that individuals must protect information that people can use against them like photos, hobbies, dislikes, names, hate speech, making post of daily activities and sharing exact location that can be used by bad actors.

According to her, “using same password for all internet platforms can be risky and easy for hackers to get access stating that unprotected communication must be avoided like the use of public hotspot.”

Armstrong warned youths against posting inappropriate content on internet like drinking, drugs use, hate speeches, offensive gestures, profanity stating that such uploads cannot be taken back and one would not know who might have seen such post.

She said that such posts could ruin an individual’s reputation, get one in trouble with the law, parents or school which can damage future opportunities.

“Some people share too much online, that reaches people they don’t expect it to reach. Some people post everywhere they are at, every moment, which is dangerous, they post home addresses, phone numbers, location, email addresses which bad guys like hackers, scammers, thieves, stalkers can use.”

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“To avoid this, always use different password on each account, use privacy settings, limit access to your location, don’t share anyone else information.

“Don’t post revealing images which can be used to blackmail you and don’t ask or pressure anyone to share their image which are the privacy rules,” She said.