Owing to the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic in Nigeria, many organisations have had to embrace the remote work model which in turn has led many organisations to embrace more technology tools in order to help provide seamless work processes.
And even though the country has all but reopened its economy, it has become increasingly clear that organisations that embraced technology in supporting their remote work frameworks during the lockdown period will integrate many of those technology tools in their day-to-day processes moving forward.
As many experts have noted, the shifts and changes that organisations have made in response to the COVID-19 pandemic are now realities that will live with us long after the advent of the pandemic.
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Oluseyi Lala, a manager, IP planning and enterprise solutions at 9mobile Nigeria notes, “The pandemic has impacted the way business is done the world over & Nigeria is not left out. Digital transformation (DT) looked like a distant thing to us until the lock-down forced everyone to rethink their strategies. Now, businesses are seeing the need for technology & the fact that moving operations online is now very key to sustainability. DT has been accelerated by the pandemic. So what I see in the future is more businesses adapting to the “new norm” in which their operations are solely digital, fully online with little or no onsite personnel. This will have an impact on the business models & the impact on the bottom line.”
While the boom in technology adoption in one of Africa’s strongest economy is a positive, there is an issue that has become more and more of a problem.
With many organisations adopting technology integrations, they have also opened themselves up to the possibility of cyberattacks from malicious parties.
Cyberattacks are not new phenomena, but for businesses
that are probably getting their first experience with using technology in their business processes, it could be a herculean task to protect their business processes. This is where cybersecurity comes in. But before we delve into cybersecurity and its importance to businesses moving forward, let’s explain what cyberattacks mean.
What are cyberattacks?
Cisco, one of the world’s leading technology players defines cyberattacks as “… a malicious and deliberate attempt by an individual or organisation to breach the information system of another individual or organisation. Usually, the attacker seeks some type of benefit from disrupting the victim’s network.”
Norton, an antivirus and cybersecurity company explains cyberattack as “… when cybercriminals try to gain illegal access to electronic data stored on a computer or a network. The intent might be to inflict reputational damage or harm to a business or person, or theft of valuable data. Cyberattacks can target individuals, groups, organisations, or governments.”
In simpler terms, cyberattacks are malicious attacks
usually carried out over the internet by malicious parties, who are trying to make personal gains by attacking unsuspecting individuals and organisations.
Cyberattacks are a real threat to businesses in the 21st century mainly because most businesses are connected in one way or the other to the internet and that fact alone means that they could be targeted and successfully attacked by cybercriminals. With many more organisations adopting technology due to the COVID-19 pandemic as we explained earlier, the stakes are much higher.
It means that organisations do not just use the internet to carry out ordinary tasks like sending emails and responding to enquiries anymore. Businesses have now adopted and integrated technology and the internet into their core processes and frameworks. This means that a breach could be far more devastating for organisations than it has ever been.
To mitigate the effect of cyberattacks and other forms of cybercrimes, organisations must adopt cybersecurity as an approach to do their businesses online. But what exactly is cybersecurity?
What is Cybersecurity?
Cybersecurity is simply the protection of connected systems from cyberattacks. It is a set of concerted efforts by an individual or an organisation to protect its processes, data, intelligence and framework from theft and compromise.
It is a field that has been gaining momentum in Nigeria as the adoption of technology for businesses continued to grow over the years, but, owing to the realities of today, one can deduce that cybersecurity is going to be a huge player in the future of business in Nigeria.
As Oluseyi Lala aptly puts it, “Coupled with the migration to fully digitized operations comes the menace of cyber-attacks, so it means as businesses think of going digital, they must factor all of the required security measures – device protection, anti-spam/anti-bot, anti-DDoS attacks, privacy, data protection stuff, compliance with NDPR & all related issues.”
In Q2 alone, APO reports that security solutions providers have detected over two million phishing attacks in Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa and Rwanda alone. Meaning that businesses that want to continue innovating by employing digital tools must as a matter of urgency invest in cybersecurity tools and solutions.
Cybersecurity as a part of your business strategy should no longer be considered a luxury for big organisations in faraway lands either. In a recent survey, it was discovered that 64 percent of organisations with staff strength of 10-1000 employees have suffered cyberattacks. Additionally, a research by Sidmach Technologies found that 43 percent of cyberattacks in Nigeria are targeted at small and medium enterprises. And being that SMEs account for 96 percent of Nigerian businesses, cybersecurity should be on the mind and hands of every business owner in the country. As Scott Bordoni notes for itproportal.com, “A lack of focus on cyber security can be greatly damaging to a business. There is the direct economic cost of such attacks to the business, such as theft of corporate information, disruption to trading or even having to repair affected systems all resulting in financial loss.”
On another note, cybersecurity should be considered important to businesses because a high-profile cyber attack could diminish the image of an organisation. There have been cases of organisations who had to cough out millions after a cyberattack scandal to clean up their public perception in the public domain. Although their situation is rather unique, the recent hacking of twitter’s biggest users influenced their public perception negatively. A big company like twitter can bounce back from a public relations nightmare but you might not be able to if you are a small/medium enterprise so the best route to go is to accept cybersecurity as a necessity.
More importantly, the cost of not adopting a cybersecurity system and approach far outweighs the cost of setting up a cybersecurity system. As I have already pointed out, you can lose a lot when you are targeted in a cyberattack. So, the smart thing to do is to set up a cybersecurity system. As Michael Paige states, “Establishing a cybersecurity team and implementing an internal system is a wise investment that can save your firm millions of dollars and protect your brand of public embarrassment that will hinder its image and reputation permanently.”
Adopting cybersecurity will help you mitigate against human errors and reduce your exposure to attacks. When commenting on the recent attack on their platform’s biggest users, Twitter claimed that the hackers capitalised on human errors by some of their employees to target them and they are not the only ones that it has happened to. If you check the underlying reason why many hacking and cyberattack endeavours succeed, you will note it is because of human errors like someone clicking on a link, installing an application or even visiting a phishing website. With cybersecurity solutions and frameworks, the human errors could be minimised, creating an avenue where you are less prone to cyberattacks.
Not minding the reason that you might need to adopt the cybersecurity framework in your business, the reality of today requires that any serious-minded business owner or CEO must think critically about cybersecurity moving forward. The drive for a digital economy is no longer a myth that we speak about at conferences and meetings; the harsh reality of the COVID-19 pandemic has necessitated a rapid adoption of technology in Africa and that comes with its own share of negatives, cybercrimes being chief among them. However, with cybersecurity processes, frameworks and solutions, you might be able to mitigate against one of the negatives while enjoying the positives.