The Inquirer is a leading independent daily newspaper published in Liberia, based in Monrovia. It is privately owned with a "good reputation".

A Cashless Society Awareness Should Start with Service Providers

B Geeplay Williams
Cyber Security Specialist

As Liberian banking sector is gradually moving to internet banking and automatic teller machine cards, it is strongly believed that the sector will face electronic fraud. With expert opinion on a large percentage of the losses that will be or is reported are attributed to insiders. Insiders collude with hackers to illegally defraud the banks.

Phishing scams are also on the rise with many bank employees falling for these scams and releasing critical information to malicious attackers. The lack of awareness amongst employees and poorly implemented security controls in Liberia banks continues to expose the sector to fraud and risks.
However, there is a need for a cyber-security awareness to all staffers of each bank. There is a need that Liberia as a nation introduce a platform known as Bank Verification Number (BVN) by the Central Bank of Liberia.

This will have helped to reduce these cases and theft in the banking sectors. Let us look at the issue of mobile money; which is one of the most embraced technology platform in Liberia and Africa as a whole. Mobile money is gradually integrating into the other sectors including hospitality, banking, transportation, telecommunication, E-commerce, Government and other financial sectors.

As a towering platform, mobile money can be a single point of success just as easily as it could be of failure. With platforms such as, GTMobileMoney, Ecobank Mobile Money and GN bank Mobile Money, payment convenience has been achieved in most of the sectors mentioned above.

Mobile money in Liberia has experienced numerous attacks which is hidden through social engineering, use of malwares and account personifications. As one of the alternative channels for most banks, hackers are now exploiting the weak security controls around the mobile money platform to steal millions of dollars. Service providers should be providing awareness to the public on the personal data security.

The Liberia government has recently automated most of its critical processes including tax applications, filling returns through the central bank and working to adopt cashless policies. While this has increased its service delivery and efficiency, this same digitization and transition has exposed the government and especially ordinary citizens to more attacks.

The lack of awareness on the part of the end user, privacy concerns, unreliable distribution and delivery process and lack of properly secured infrastructures has led to the increase in cybercrime activities through these established channels. Attacks such as online scams, Identity theft and credit card fraud will be on the increase.

The E-commerce sector in Liberia has seen tremendous growth with business activities now being carried out electronically on the Internet rather than at a physical location. While these platforms create a lot of convenience, they collect a lot of information about visitors to their websites.

Because of their many misconfigurations and vulnerabilities, we are seeing an increase in the number of online scams, fraudulent transactions and breach of consumers’ personal information. Merchants need to be aware of the risks electronic transactions carry, and work towards securing the systems to the highest standards.

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