NITDA Cautions on another Ransomware Threat

Barely two months after the worrisome threat caused by the “WannaCry” virus which set many businesses and organisation on the edge, the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) has cautioned Nigerians against the threat of another deadly cyber-attack. In a press statement by the agency, NITDA stated that the computer virus which aside encrypting files also encrypts hard drives thereby rendering entire computer systems inaccessible is called ‘Petya’ ransomware or ‘GoldenEye’.

Reports have it that the attack has paralysed businesses across the world and is spreading quickly with reports indicating that countries affected so far include Ukraine, Denmark, Russia, the UK, Germany, France, Italy, Poland and the USA. The malware is spreading using a vulnerability in Microsoft Windows that was patched in March 2017 — the same bug that was exploited by the WannaCry ransomware.

NITDA noted that though the agency’s Computer Emergency Readiness Response Team (CERRT) is working round the clock along with other stakeholders to come up with effective defence mechanism for the Nigerian cyberspace, however, the agency is calling on Network Administrators in the public and private sectors as well as individuals to take the following measures recommended during the recent WannaCry attack:

  • Isolate the system from your network to prevent the threat from further spreading;
  • remove the system from Network; and
  • do not use flash/pen drive, external drives on the System to copy files to other systems.

As a general precautionary measure and as the security of systems is our collective responsibility, we would like to recommend that individuals and organisations should:

  • regularly update their operating systems with the latest patches;
  • regularly update their software applications with latest patches;
  • turnoff unnecessary/unneeded features;
  • avoid downloading and opening unsolicited files and attachments;
  • adjust security software to scan compressed or archived files; and
  • avoid indiscriminate use of wireless connections, such as Bluetooth or infrared ports.

The statement which was signed by the Director General of NITDA advised citizens to take precaution. “We call on all citizens, especially critical stakeholders in the IT industry, to support NITDA in this onerous task by always following best practices as well as being proactive in the way information and systems are handled. These will help in minimizing risks of attacks as well as possible loss of vital information” the DG, added.


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