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Online security needs continual adjustment to tackle hacking: Expert

NAIROBI, Kenya, July 10 – Chaotic data breaches have characterized the state of affairs in cyberspace in the recent past.

From the devastating news in October 2017 of three million Yahoo accounts having been hacked to outrageous ransomware claims, internet users have never been faced with an insurgence of cybersecurity warfare since the advent of the internet of things as they are today.

In fact, an analysis published by an anti-virus software firm – Bitdefender – indicates that ransomware payments doubled in 2017 compared to 2016 hitting the $2 billion mark.

But how can Internet users protect personal information which hackers have increasingly invented ways and means of mining?

According to Prof Hoda Alkhzaimi, a Research Assistant and Director of the Centre for Cybersecurity at the New York University Abu Dhabi, the safety of internet users are dependent on their agility in keeping up with password management and internet safety advisories.

Alkhzaimi, who has worked in the cybersecurity sector for 13 years told Capital FM News online security required constant adjustments to address loopholes hackers are likely to explore.

“Cybersecurity is very dynamic and therefore you’re as safe as your constant struggle to make sure all your defences are up in as far as addressing every attack that happens around the world,” she said on the sidelines of the Africa Cyber Defence Summit at the Kenyatta International Convention Centre, on Tuesday.

“Always go with the standard norm in terms of using a combination of numbers and letters so that it becomes harder for the attackers because the space of attack is not just limited to numbers,” she pointed out.

Users also need to independently probe the strength of encryption technology of cloud services they use to store passwords before committing.

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Alkhzaimi pointed out that some servers could have vulnerabilities that can easily compromise the security of internet users.

“If attackers infiltrate servers all passwords saved therein are compromised. A cloud server is as strong as the latest encryption technology,” she said.

According to Alkhzaimi safeguards in the cyberspace had become more vital with the advent of cryptocurrencies which she said could revolutionize banking in future.

She, however, cautioned that the uptake of cryptocurrencies in the global market may remain relatively low in the absence of a regulatory framework to guide the verification of the digital currencies, especially in the banking sector.

She said regulation was critical to building trust which would progressively increase the adoption of digital currencies also referred to as blockchains, digital ledgers in which transactions made in cryptocurrencies are chronologically recorded in a public domain.

“I don’t see cryptocurrencies being absorbed as fast as other technologies other than the fact than cryptocurrencies are tackling a higher demand at the moment,” Alkhzaimi said.

“The banking industry has a certain way of verifying transactions and having transfers around the world,” she added.

She, however, expressed confidence in the increase in uptake of digital currencies with time as the credibility of cryptocurrency transactions improves.

“With cryptocurrency all your transactions are within the particular platform within a digital ledger and that eliminates the necessity of having banks and multiple players that are normally there to check on the authenticity of transactions. This kind of trust is not there yet,” Alkhzaimi explained.

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“Once you have the trust that a new technology will replace safely all the current banking approached then we can go for cryptocurrencies whose absorption is only high in Europe, the United States, and Japan,” she added.

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