A connected Africa becomes a playground for hackers

"Unprepared" Nigerian SMEs face unprecedented cybersecurity threats, but Nigeria-based fintech solution NowNow is equipping them with the tools to fight back, says Co-Founder and CEO Sahir Berry.

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A lack of security infrastructure represents one of the biggest challenges facing the continent as governments and businesses continue to make enormous strides in bringing African digitisation into the mainstream of globalisation.

As Africa’s internet revolution revs up, cybercriminals are striking with increasing ease and impunity.

But Nigerian fintech NowNow’s platform is helping to protect firms from the dark side of the internet.

How big is the cybercrime problem facing SMEs in Nigeria, and are SMEs aware of the risks? 

Nigerian businesses are technically less aware of risks and threats being faced and they also have fewer resources that they can dedicate to their cybersecurity team. In Nigeria, cybercriminals usually target small businesses because SMEs in Nigeria are unprepared and they aren’t aware of the vulnerabilities.

What are some of the major impacts of cyber attacks on individual SMEs? 

Cyber-attacks can have a significant impact on small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in various ways.

One of the biggest threats is financial losses. Cyber-attacks can result in significant financial losses for SMEs. The cost of remediation, data recovery, and damage repair can be substantial. In addition, a cyber-attack can lead to a loss of business, revenue, and customers, which can be devastating for small businesses.

Cyber attacks can also seriously disrupt an SME’s operations, sometimes beyond repair. If a business’s critical systems are compromised or inaccessible, this can lead to delays, missed deadlines, and lost productivity.

SMEs that suffer a cyber-attack may also face legal and regulatory consequences. Depending on the nature of the attack and the data that was compromised, SMEs may be required to notify customers or regulators, pay fines or penalties, or face legal action from customers or business partners.

Fourthly, cyber-attacks can result in the loss of critical business data. This can include financial records, customer data, and intellectual property. Losing this data can have long-term consequences for an SME’s competitiveness and ability to function.

SMEs that suffer a cyber-attack may also become more vulnerable to future attacks. Cybercriminals may exploit weaknesses in an SME’s security system, making it easier for them to carry out future attacks, resulting in a vicious cycle of attacks and vulnerabilities.

How does NowNow help to protect SMEs from cyber-attacks? 

NowNow platform helps to protect SMEs from Cyber Attacks in three ways. Firstly, by providing multi-factor authentication: SMEs should use strong passwords and enable multi-factor authentication (MFA) for all accounts. This can make it more difficult for cybercriminals to gain access to sensitive information.

Secondly, we keep releasing the latest application with security patches and protection, so SMEs should regularly update their software and systems to ensure they have the latest version. Our platform ensures that SME data is encrypted on our platform as well.

Finally, our ground team continue to share the best practices to SMEs such as how to recognize phishing emails and avoid clicking on malicious links.

How do your web application penetration tests help? 

Web application penetration tests can help organizations by identifying vulnerabilities that could be exploited by attackers. By addressing these vulnerabilities, organizations can reduce the risk of a successful cyber-attack.

They also enhance security by identifying vulnerabilities and recommending measures to reduce the risk of a security breach.

We also ensure that firms are meeting compliance requirements: Many industries and regulatory bodies require organizations to conduct regular security assessments, including web application penetration tests. By conducting these tests, organizations can ensure that they meet their compliance requirements.

Marc Serber