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Ransomware attacks only hit those who didn’t have updated systems—Microsoft

The Country Manager for Microsoft Nigeria, Mr Akin Banuso, has called on businesses and bodies deploying digital machines to always be on top of their software usage by updating regularly with latest cybersecurity systems.

Speaking in an interview in Lagos, he revealed that the 2018 ransomware attacks on corporate bodies and government frustrated more systems that lacked the latest patches or updates.

Banuso said “If you look at a ransomware attack that happened last year, the bulk of the people who were affected were those who didn’t have updated machines. They were running outdated software that didn’t have the latest patches or updates. Therefore, all the risks that had already been seen around the world affected them.

“The moment we detect or contain or nullify a risk/threat, the program gets updated globally.

According to him, “If you do not have a good patch management practice or up-to-date software, you may be affected. Sometimes, there is a good reason for you not to update the program automatically because you have changed control practices in place but you still need to have a very fast response time nowadays. If you don’t have that, you may see these types of attacks. Nowadays, we have seen these targeted attack trends: some, financial institutions where a large amount of money is moved are getting targeted. It is like a chain. You’re only as strong as your weakest link and all they have to do is to find the weakest link.

The Microsoft boss in Nigeria further noted that “When we advise organisations and the government, what we say is ‘focus on where your top value is.’ What is your value or core competence? You’re using digital tools but if your core competence is not technology, partner with the professionals and, as much as possible, let them handle those things.”

Continuing, Banuso called on digital managers to always make sure that systems are covered to the extent that you don’t just buy something which becomes obsolete tomorrow, buy something that its service is ongoing.

He said “In terms of security, when you look at Windows Defender which comes with Windows 10, it isn’t like buying just any antivirus software; it is a service just as you have Windows 10. Anytime you detect a new thing, it is automatically updated for you.”

Giving insights on how susceptible advanced technologies like Internet of Things (IoT) are to cyberattacks, he stressed that due to the interconnected nature of global activities, “Today, we have about 8.4 billion interconnected devices in the world and by 2020, it is expected to be 20 billion.”

“We talked about the Internet of Things now, where people are able to send a message to their refrigerator to check what is in there and what is going bad. People are able to turn the heat on remotely because they would be at home in 30 minutes and they don’t want to get home to a cold house. All these are done using technologies like Internet of Things.

According to him, “In Nigeria, this technology can be used to address pipeline vandalisation. If there is a burst pipe somewhere, it takes about two weeks to fix it. Why? First, they have to find out where the damage is by going into the bush to locate it.”

“With the IoT now, there are sensors along the pipeline so you can actually detect immediately where the pipeline was damaged. Also, there are drones you can send out that transmit information all the time. When we talk about the Internet of Things and interconnected devices, we also need to secure the network because they are interconnected networks. We have what is called the outer-ring, the inner-ring and the trusted core. The idea is that at every stage, at every point, there needs to be levels of security,” Microsoft head in Nigeria averred.