By Prince Osuagwu

Next-generation Cybersecurity Company, Sophos has decried the rising metrics of cyber attacks on Nigerian companies, saying it will add in worsening the ailing Nigerian economy. 

Announcing the findings of its global survey, “Phishing Insights 2021” Sophos revealed that  attacks targeting organizations ramped up considerably during the pandemic, as millions of employees working from  home  became a prime target for cybercriminals.

It claimed that about 66 per cent of IT teams in Nigeria said the  number of phishing emails targeting their employees increased during 2020.

Sophos’ Principal research scientist,  Chester Wisniewski,  said:  “Phishing has been around for over 25 years and remains an effective cyberattack technique. One of the reasons for its success is its ability to continuously evolve and diversify, tailoring attacks to topical issues or concerns, such as the pandemic, and playing on human emotions and trust.

“It can be tempting for organizations to see phishing attacks as a relatively low-level threat, but that underestimates their power. “Phishing is often the first step in a complex, multi-stage attack”. 

The report said attackers frequently use phishing emails to trick users into installing malware or sharing credentials that provide access to the corporate network.

The findings also reveal that there is a lack of common understanding about the definition of phishing.   For instance, 55 per cent  of IT teams in Nigeria associate phishing with emails  that falsely claim to be from a legitimate organization, and which are usually combined with a threat or request for information. Forty-five percent consider Business Email Compromise (BEC) attacks to be phishing, and more than one-third, which translates to 34 per cent think threadjacking – when attackers insert themselves into a legitimate email thread as part of an attack – is phishing.

However, the good news is that most organizations in Nigeria, representing 86 per cent have implemented cybersecurity awareness programs, comprising  computer-based training programs, human-led training programs, and phishing simulations  to combat phishing. 

  Wisniewski said that no matter the strategy,  the ideal would be to prevent phishing emails from ever reaching their intended recipient. “Effective email security solutions can go a long way towards achieving this, but this should be complemented by alert and primed employees who are able to spot and report suspicious messages before they get any further.”

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