Cybersecurity lead at e-Crime Bureau, Joseph Quaye has noted that the low cybersecurity awareness in the country has made national online space vulnerable to risks .
He made this statement in reference to the World Password Day, which is observed annually on the first Thursday of May to raise awareness about the importance of password security, the most common threats, and best practices for users to follow.
In an interview with UniversNews, Joseph Quaye stated that the average Ghanaian does not prioritize cybersecurity due to low cybersecurity awareness.
According to Mr. Quaye, some people set simple passwords that can easily be figured out by a third party hence leaving their accounts vulnerable on the internet.
“When we say awareness, people gain awareness of cybersecurity issues but in Ghana it is very very low. It is improving but it’s very low actually as the average person doesn’t really think of their security, which is why you hear a lot of people losing access to their Facebook and other social media accounts because the password they are setting you would be surprised.. some are very, very, very simple; like 12345 can be a password to someone. So I mean, generally, our awareness towards cyber security issues is low. Once that keeps on improving with time I mean, generally it will affect our password practices.”
Mr. Quaye however proposed that Ghanaians should protect their online identities and give equal importance to safeguarding their online accounts as they do for their physical safety.
“But one thing that I would wish Ghanaians did more of was to think about the cybersecurity similarly to how they think about their physical security. For instance if you take a typical house with your assets or properties there are certain things you put in place. You don’t just go to work or leave home with your doors open. Also if you have a Facebook profile, that account is where your friends are. That profile is your identity. When they are chatting with you, they think they are chatting with you; they know you as the person they have associated with that profile. In the same way, if this profile were to get into the wrong hands, they would not think they were chatting with a fake person; they would think it was you.”
Joseph Quaye also stated that the use of common words, short passwords, and passwords based on the person’s favorite things are some mistakes people make when creating passwords.
He revealed that such passwords are easy to crack, making access to the accounts facilitated.
“One of the common mistakes people tend to make is going with a very short password, which is a password with less than eight characters. This makes it easier to figure out the combination that makes up the password. Another is passwords that are based on words that are personal to you, like your favorite food, the names of friends and family, and your date of birth, among others. If someone knows you well enough, they can eventually figure out the things that are personal to you and figure out your password. The last are common words, usually known as dictionary words.”
Mr. Quaye concluded by giving some tips on how to protect oneself against password cracking attempts, such as using password phrases, among others.
“You should use passwords with more than eight characters. Also, do not use passwords based on things that are personal to you. A passphrase is another option you can use to create strong passwords. In the case of a passphrase, it can be a short sentence or a simple phrase; for instance, wonderful and amazing is one. These are recommended because they increase the length of passwords, which makes it difficult to figure out which makes the password stronger.”