MONROVIA – A former Secretary General of the Press Union of Liberia (PUL) has challenged journalists and media institutions in the country to take an interest in reporting and creating awareness of cybercrime and its devastating effects on citizens and the country at large.
Mr. D. Kaihenneh Sengbeh said many Liberians including journalists themselves are falling victim to cybercrimes daily because they have limited or no knowledge about these crimes and their preventive measures. Mr. Sengbeh said when media practitioners understand and report on issues of cybercrimes and security, they will better inform the public to take preventive measures.
Cybercrimes attacks, the Liberian journalist noted, are criminal or illegal activities conducted by criminals, mostly on the internet, using electronic devices such as a computer or mobile phone to steal people’s personal information and break into their social media, bank, or other accounts.
“Too many Facebook accounts have been hacked by cybercriminals, too many websites have been attacked, too many women and girls have suffered sextortion and cyberbullying, and many more will occur unless we make cyber security our business through sustained media awareness,” the former PUL official said.
Mr. Sengbeh spoke during a two-day (April 11&12) Internews-sponsored Cyber Safety Awareness Workshop he organized, as an Internews Fellow, for staff of Lux FM on the Fendall Campus of the University of Liberia. The workshop was funded under USAID Media Activity in Liberia.
The university lecturer stated that every single person faces the rampaging threats of cybercrime attacks. Journalists, he stressed, must take an interest in the phenomena and promote cyber security – every action taken to ensure the protection of individuals, businesses, institutions, and society against cyber threats.
The Chair of the Department of Communications and Media Studies at the UL, Eurias M. Togar, welcomed the initiative and extended plaudits to USAID through Internews for sponsoring the activity.
He urged staffers of LUX FM to take full advantage of the training and deploy the knowledge in their everyday lives and works as journalists. “Our lives have become digitized, and because of this, we are all threatened by cybercrimes and cybercriminals,” the DCMS Chair under whose jurisdiction LUX FM operates, noted.
LUX FM Manager Sydney Nicol described the training as a great opportunity to gain new knowledge and learn skills that will help identify and prevent cybercrimes. “I urge all of you in here to take this workshop and knowledge-sharing initiative seriously for yourself and others in society,” he noted.
The two-day activities covered several topics including understanding components of cybercrimes and associated red flags, identifying Sextortion and Cyberbullying, and how to spot, stop and report them. Other topics included Spotting Fake Websites, stopping cyber-attacks, Protecting Personal Information Online, Creating Strong Passwords as well as and protecting one’s devices from viruses.
LUX FM is the official radio of the University of Liberia, and all its 15 staff and interns benefitted from the training. At least 500,000 people across five counties listen to the station.
“When people listen to the radio, they get information and use such information to make the best possible decisions about their lives, their communities, their societies, and their governments, and that is why we chose Lux to benefit from the training,” Mr. Sengbeh said, adding, “but we need to prepare more journalists for the task with the new skills.”