Harriet: Recently the stock exchange also, they became very very ICT conscious, they’ve changed their form of trading to the new one they have extreme-trading and then they now have x-alert you know so many things that so many Government parastatal are beginning to key into boosting their various arms with ICT where do you see that putting us in the next couple of years especially on the technology map.

  • CFA: Well, the fact remains that every sector in the society today need one form of technology or the other to function effectively so the more we adapt to it the more, I mean corruption can be stamped out maybe not very easily but very swiftly with ICT a lot of things that people say is just that if there’s no political will and there’s no lead if we keep at this pace and we do it genuinely then we’ll see a lot of change happening the issue of ghost worker, the issue of corruption the issue of these a lot of things. You know the beauty about ICT is that it leaves a trace so it means that if it’s one of the system and then somebody comes and manipulate the system all you need to do is bring the creator of the system or somebody with a higher skill to find out who at what time did what and it’s done leave all the stories. With ICT a lot can happen. Security I mean I Lagos for example, how can you secure 18 million people without technology? How would you want to do it? If you like put one Policeman in one street how many things can he do? So you need street cameras, a lot of things that you’ll begin to think about that is based on technology so if we keep at this pace, of course there is a brighter Nigeria. But a lot needs to happen in terms of investment, sensitization, I mean for the businesses out there you must understand something. If you are an expert in a particular trade and then you refuse to adapt to the internet. the internet is a no man’s world as it were so if the expert refuses to take his or her position, and a quack takes the position because it’s a make believe world, there’s a possibility that the quack will now be regarded as the expert as long as the quack can play the game but of course when it comes to delivery then the quack might mess up but then on the onset people will begin to go to the quack because why that’s who they can see He’s the one in their face so with the internet as a business owner you have to be in the face of your potential client that’s the fastest way for you to get clients today so we’ve not seen anything yet both in terms of the Government in fact we’ve not seen anything yet if not for the resistance to change a lot more will happen a lot more will still happen.

Harriet: Now you mentioned the social media at the start of this conversation Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and the rest of it. How can a business already trying to promote itself we already have them online and all but how can they use social media to properly really put themselves in the face of consumers?

  • CFA: Well, first things first is that social media gives you an opportunity to position yourself and to sell yourself as an expert or as a business to be, meet or to deal with in that industry. So with social media what you need to think about is the kind of content you pass out that’s the first thing. We are all on social media today because of content. It’s more or less content, content of your friends, of your social circle, content of pictures, photos, that’s really what it’s all about. Of course what you need to do as a small business owner or as a business owner is about content if you look at the big people, the big players in the industry who are pushing out contents, content about their business, the value that they believe they will add to their clients. So for business owners the very first thing to do is contents. Find a way or do your best to generate as much positive content as you can and then push it online and you have to be consistent about it. Now because it’s a very rowdy world you just need to find a way to be unique about it.

Harriet: But then how can they in a bid to carve a niche for themselves in this very rowdy cyber space, how can they make sure that they don’t get side-tracked?

  • CFA: That’s why they need to start with a goal. What is their goal of being on social media, if their goal is to get clients then they stick to their goal, if their goal is to sell their brands then they stick to their goal. It depends on what their goal is, it depends on what their motives and expected outcome is. For some people, for example if a Government institution is on social media they are not there to sell as it were, they are there to increase their brand as an entity or as the overall brand of the Government. So it depends on what the goal is but it’s just a process and the process is that you need to communicate and interact with people. You need to watch out for and that’s what is called online brand reputation. You need to watch out for what is being said about your brand, and then how to tackle it quickly then you need to be very very conscious about what your team especially for multi-nationals and some very big companies. You need to be very careful about what your staff and your team members are saying about your business online because embarrassing things could be leaked out you’ll now start doing damage control and that’s one thing that we must all understand is that there will come a time when damage control will become necessary maybe not your fault, maybe your fault, something just happens that has to do with your brand or your business or your person then there’s need for damage control so you just have to be ready. Jesse Jackson had his account hacked and then nude images were posted, funny images were posted and he came out and issued a press release that it wasn’t him now the truth of the matter is that that is a damage control process the point is that Jesse Jackson’s facebook account released images that are not worthy of his person. So whatever followed is damage control. At every point in time a business must understand that a need for damage control might arise and must be ready

Harriet: What are the other major risks involved in IT applications to business, I know you’ve mentioned some of them already but could you just really let’s really talk about it as you said there’s an advantage and there’s also a disadvantage but sometimes I feel the disadvantages are more.

  • CFA: Well, I think there are disadvantages I’ll be the first to admit, disadvantages of security, disadvantages of a lot of things

Harriet: What of impersonation because you know you have people who hack this accounts so I could probably or not me so somebody could probably hack into your account and pose to be a very big brand name and promise that we can deliver this to you and all the rest for instance because am comfortable buying from that brand so I might not necessarily say let me see the product first before I pay for it I might just go right ahead and pay you know and at the end of the day it’s not the company that I usually do business with that I’ve done business with.

  • CFA: Well, you see the issues you’re raising are the issues you can’t rule out it happens every now and then even the big companies out there experience data breech I mean yahoo with all their security experts every now and then smart guys get to hack into their system and wreak havoc expose people’s passwords so it happens security is the number one challenge everybody has when it comes to the use of technology security. You know I mentioned something about the internet of things and honestly it’s going to affect businesses too it’s not just going to be individuals. Today you have smart offices, you have digital offices, you have offices that everything is controlled you have smart television sets.

Recently, a fridge was used to send spam messages not a laptop, a refrigerator was used to send spam messages because you see everything connected to the internet will have a unique IP and everybody can exploit that so the number one thing as a business to prevent issues is password. What kind of password do you use both on the enterprise or on the individual level you must as a matter of policy ensure that every single member of your team use very secure passwords. Do you know or would you believe that the most common password is the word password worldwide. In 2013 the most common used password is PASSWORD so any smart hacker can because you know

Harriet: It doesn’t take a smart hacker to know that one, it doesn’t I mean anybody can know that the person can probably use password or date of birth or the person’s first name.

  • CFA: And so what you just do is go to facebook, search for the person’s name, if you’re lucky you can get the person’s date of birth and you can just try it out some people use their place of birth. Now this are very simple and that’s why you must be smart when you do this are very simple ways I mean that’s why we talked about ethical hacking I mean ethical hacking is allowed as long as long as you follow the process and you report the steps that you followed.

Harriet: Ok so how can these risks be reduced? Is there any way? Because it seems as if it’s such a huge thing to be playing with and you wonder if the risk can be reduced in anyway.

  • CFA: Ok well, again there’s a foreign tool that I use it’s so sad that it’s a foreign tool it’s called lastpass.com it’s free, it’s both for the individual and the enterprise levels that can be used so it means that within your organization nobody is allowed to write out passwords or to save passwords on an excel sheet. Passwords can be shared encrypted electronically. Passwords really really is the first step when it comes to security, there are other things like the kind of coding those are more technical details. One of the things that make people scared of adapting technology or using the internet is that they heard the issue of oh my friend tried this and my friend’s account was hacked or my friend’s ATM was used so I don’t want to touch ATM but you see those things happened because of carelessness. You give people the lead way so the very first thing you must be conscious of your password and then you must also be conscious about the kind of websites you visit. A lot of website share malware so malware simply drops a malware on your system everything you type, your banking information everything comes to my system and that can happen replicated to about a thousand systems at the same time the same very second just write a code and just send and the code does the work for you so you must be careful about the website you visit because that’s where it starts from the website you visit so the website, it drops on a system, it’s very simple, you have a large network of computers and I am for example the hacker and am somewhere so I get access to one of the computers I just need to find a loophole and I just can have access to every single 1000 of the computers on the network

Harriet: So business is who should they be talking to, to make sure that this loopholes are plugged at least if not totally plugged three quarter of it should be plugged so that they don’t begin to lose their customers’ information and in the process lose your customers’ trust.

  • CFA: That is one big risk about social banking and all the ITT banking that we are all adapting that’s the truth you know. Just imagine what will happen if somebody is able to break in and just create it’s going to be huge. So what they should do is they should today you have, that’s why I told you about ethical hacking. The number of youths involved, getting trained in this is growing. I mean in 2012 Nigerian came 3rd in the worldwide hackers’ competition.

Harriet: There’s actually a competition for hackers?

  • CFA: Yes, there is. And again that’s why there need to be a carefully thought out process. For example, I’m not encouraging this, you get a young guy who is sending scam and then you send him to prison you are not doing the right thing, yes, I mean that’s what they do in the US. Keep this guy, find a way to fix him and find out what is wrong with him. Fix him and take this guy somewhere if it’s the SSS or wherever and let this guy invest because if you take and go and waste him away, you are wasting yourself because guess what, the hackers are even more smarter, they are more daring, they don’t sleep night and day and their goal is where is the next havoc that we can wreck. Power plants can be taken electronically, cars can be taken electronically, a lot can happen electronically so we just need to have a cyber-security mindset that is positive we must be ready for it, I mean today most of the cars are becoming more electronic so it means that I can actually find a way to find the code of a car and then do some stuff and then begin to control where the car is going to that’s a possibility you know, a lot can happen but again as a nation all we need to do is just sit up and then say a lot of our people are moving this way how can we ensure that this mass of people are protected that’s very critical otherwise it just takes a group of I mean there’s a group called the serian cyber-army. I mean they are wreaking havoc I mean twitter, facebook, they hack accounts any time they want just to get back at whoever they want to get back to we must understand that it is our onus as a people and as a Government to enjoy technology but understand the risk and find a way to ameliorate the risk cause the risk are there, we can’t rule that out.

Harriet: Well, thank you so much Fred for joining us on the program this morning it’s been an insightful and enlightening conversation thank you so much.

  • CFA: Thank you so much.

Harriet: Well I’ve been speaking with an ICT social media expert Fred Apata and we’ve been looking at leveraging on ICT to improve business development and as I said the conversation has been quite enlightening. I’ll like to thank Chinelo for sending in her tweet but we are unable to read it owing to time constraints but hopefully we’ll read the next one that she’s sending. Well. That’s the program for today, the last one for the week. Thank you so much for watching. I’m Harriet Agbeni.

Click to Read part 1 and part 2 of CFA’s Interview on Channels TV.

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