A Cyber Security Analyst with the e-Crime Bureau, Mr Joseph Quaye, has warned that cyber criminals are now harvesting information from reception books of institutions to defraud unsuspecting members of the public.
He said the fraudsters went to the reception desks of institutions with the knowledge that the organisations collected visitors’ details such as phone numbers, emails and even signatures.
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“They pretend they are there to look for people and secretly take pictures of notebooks containing those details which they use for illegal activities, including hacking at later dates,” he told the Daily Graphic on the sidelines of a forum on cyber security at the Accra Technical University.
The forum, organised by the Ministry of Communications in collaboration with the National Cyber Security Centre and the Accra Polyclinic, was meant to expose the students to what constituted cybercrime, its various forms, the vulnerabilities and opportunities available in the digital space.
It was attended by more than 150 students from the university.
Mr Quaye, therefore, urged organisations to invest in better data capturing systems that did not compromise information collected from the public.
Phishing is a cybercrime in which a target or targets are contacted by email, telephone or text message by someone posing as a legitimate institution to lure individuals into providing sensitive data such as personally identifiable information, banking, credit card details, and passwords. The information is then used to access important accounts and can result in identity theft and financial loss.
The most common way that a phisher gets the ball rolling on a bank phishing attack is by sending out thousands of spoof emails.
Mr Quaye said those emails were carefully crafted to look nearly identical to the types of correspondence that were sent out by actual banks. Skilled phishers can replicate the logos, layouts and general tone of such emails to uncanny degrees.
Mr Quaye, therefore, urged the public to be extremely cautious about opening email attachments, particularly when even emails of persons known to them could be compromised.
He raised red flags about the danger in social media users recklessly leaving personal information on social media platforms, thereby leaving themselves and others vulnerable to scams and other forms of cybercrime.
“These days, you look at peoples’ Facebook and WhatsApp status and it is like a movie and you can easily profile them and harvest information that can be used for committing crime,” he said.
With Ghana’s high mobile penetration which puts mobile phones in the hands of millions of people with low level of awareness of cyber security, Mr Quaye said vulnerability was high at the individual level because people were not aware of what could go wrong in the cyberspace.
“People are buying devices just anywhere. You go to Circle in Accra and somebody wants you to swap phones and you put your SIM inside and use it. Do you know what has been installed on it?” he asked.
The country’s high mobile phone subscription pegged at more than 40 million by the National Communications Authority (NCA) comes along with a huge market for phone repair centres, but Mr Quaye said it was worrying that people just handed their phones to just anyone without thinking about the possibility of compromising all the personal information on their phone.
“Someone can download everything on your phone and use it to blackmail you,” he said.
He urged the students to be conscious of social engineering which cyber criminals were using to trick people to divulge information that they would ordinarily not give out using technology.