NITA-U tips internet users on how to avoid fraudstersIsaac Nsengiyunva
e authority has realized an increasing number of internet users especially during the COVID-19 lockdown where the majority of Ugandans transact their businesses online due to restricted movement.
The National Information Technology Authority Uganda (NITA-U) has tipped internet users on how to avoid falling victims to cybercrime.
The authority has realized an increasing number of internet users especially during the COVID-19 lockdown where the majority of Ugandans transact their businesses online due to restricted movement.
The Director of Information Security, Arnold Mangeni said internet users needed to be guided on how to avoid falling prey to scammers who continue to take advantage of the unsuspecting internet consumers.
He noted that this is part of the Cyber Security Awareness campaign to equip all Ugandans using the internet with the relevant knowledge and sense of shared responsibility to practice safe and informed decisions while using the internet.
He cited some of the main cybercrimes reported include offenses related to electronic fraud and theft (where people are defrauded millions of money annually), threatening violence, defamation, offensive communication, impersonation, cyber harassment, and pornography, among others.
He advised internet users to avoid sharing their passwords with other people, to change passwords at least every 30 days, report suspicions of cyber threats immediately to the police and NITA-U for quick response, and avoid clicking on and downloading unknown links and files.
He urged people not to send money or give out personal information in response to unexpected requests, stressing that messages might be in form of text, phone calls, or email. “Scammers pretend to be those you trust like family members, government officials, charity organizations, or companies you do business with,” he added.
He said it is important to always conduct online searches on products or products using any search engine with words like “review,” “complaint”, “fraud” or “scam.”
“You can even search for phone numbers to see if other people have reported them as scams. Also, avoid believing every caller. If someone calls asking for money or personal information, hang up and call back to a number you know is genuine,” he noted.
Mangeni cautioned against rushing to pay in advance for any promise like loan offers, clearance for a debt, a job or visa, and prize before verifying.
“Also consider how to pay. Credit cards have significant fraud protection built-in. Wiring money through services like Western Union or MoneyGram also increases your risk of losing your money completely once they made the payment in accordance with your instructions,” he said.
He also urged the public to consult experts or friends, conduct an online search before paying any money or making any transaction; and always be skeptical about free trial offers from companies. “First research the company to know their cancellation policy before you agree to a free trial,” he said.
“We realized the number of internet users is conducting business online and they needed to be protected. That is why we embarked on a rigorous campaign to raise awareness about the cyber-related threats out there,” he added.
The authority launched a two-month Cyber Security Campaign under the theme: “BeSafeOnline” to be conducted through its various social media platforms (Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram) with a hashtag #BeSafeOnline for those following online, while several other programs will be conducted through radio and television stations countrywide in various languages.
The campaign is funded by the World Bank as part of the Regional Communications Infrastructure Project (RCIP).
He said the authority has put in place the Uganda National Computer Emergency Response Team and Coordination Center to effectively analyze and respond to cyber threats with immediacy to protect Ugandans.
“This will increase awareness and vigilance among all internet users in the country about the day-to-day cyber threats. We have realized that many use the internet via mobile phones and needed to be guided,” the authority’s spokesperson, Angella Ndagano added.