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Youth urged to guard against sextortion, romance fraud and other cybercrimes

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The National Lead for the Computer Emergency Response Team, CERT-GH under the Ministry of Communications,  Audrey Mireku has admonished the youth to take advantage of the opportunities inherent in the cyberspace to improve upon their lives and avoid engaging in cyber related crimes and practices that negatively affect them and the nation.

She mentioned mobile money fraud, impersonation, cyberbullying, child pornography, hacking, sextortion, romance fraud among others as crimes that occur in the cyberspace that the youth must guard against.

Mrs.  Mireku stated this at a sensitisation program organised as part of the National Cybersecurity Awareness Month events in the North East Regional capital, Nalerugu at the Nalerugu Senior High School.

She underscored the importance of the cybersecurity awareness program and said with the level of cyber related cases in the country there is the need for the citizenry especially the youth who are the future leaders to be educated on the ‘Dos’ and ‘Don’ts’ of the internet.

Mrs. Mireku advised the students to be careful about the kind of messages and pictures they post online. She said it is unacceptable and “unhygienic” for people to post their nude pictures online.

To the students, she said if they post their naked pictures online it will affect them in future in their efforts to get employment, contest for local or national public positions or even marriage.

She touched on Mobile money fraud and urged the participants to be careful not to be defrauded, saying if they have not signed up for any competion and someone sent them messages that they have won prizes among other fruadulent schemes they should report to the National Cybersecurity Centre.

Speaking about cybersecurity incident reporting Points of Contact, Mrs. Mireku entreated the participants to endeavour to report cyber related crimes to the National Cybersecurity Centre using the various avenues.

They are Whatsapp number 050-160-311, call or send SMS messages to 292, email through report@cybersecurity.gov.gh and download the Mobile App:NCSC Ghana for more information.

Mr. Nelson Darko, a Program Officer for Child Online Protection under the National Cybersecurity Centre took the students through tips on staying safe online dubbed “SMART”.

He advised the participants to stay safe online by not giving out their personal details such as phone numbers, date of birth etc. and avoid meeting up with people they have only met online.

They must also desist from accepting messages, files, pictures and friend requests from strangers.

He urged the students to be mindful of the things they see online because not everything online is reliable.

Mr. Darko counselled the students to tell the caregivers, teachers and parents or trusted adults if they feel worried or not sure of someone or something online.

He advised parents and teachers to guide the children in surfing the internet.

Deputy Director, Programs at the National Commission for Civic Education, NCCE Headquarters Accra, Gladys Mariam Osman, highlighted the civic and moral aspects of using the internet and advised the students to be civic conscious any time they use internet related platforms because whatever they do will not only negatively or positively affect them but will impact on the image of their families, communitues and the nation as a whole.

Commenting on the program, an Assistant Headmistress of the Nalerugu Senior High School Samiatu Attu said the program was very educative and informative.

She noted that the school is confronted with cyber related crimes as some of the students are involved in the practice.

To her, the sensitisation program is a saviour as it has conscientise the students about the dangers and consequences involved in engaging in cybercrime.

She said the students will now be mindful of posting nude pictures on the internet.

She advocated the organisation of trainers of trainers workshop to ensure that the school and the community have some people who will constantly educate the students and their parents on cybersecurity and cybercrimes.

“We need more of the education” She stated.

A total of 1,744 students and 100 teachers participated in the program.

The teachers and students shared their experiences with mobile money fraud, the use of nude pictures online among other cybercrimes.

A Form Three student, Safiya Sulemana who was given a Nasco palmtop tablet for wining the cybersecurity competion thanked the Ministry of Communications for the education and appealed for the programme to be organised regularly to enable them to be abreast of issues about cybersecurity.

Other students who took part in the competition were given consolation prices.

The team was at Nayiri’s palace.

The Paramount Chief for the Mamprugu Traditional Area, Naa Bohagu Mahami Abdulai Sheriga noted that the presence of the sensitisation team in the region is an indication that the issues of cybercrime is prevalent and encouraged the team not to relent in their efforts at ensuring that people use the internet wisely and productively.

A similar program was held at Bunkurugu Senior High Technical School in the Bunkurugu-Nakpanduri District of the North East Region.

One thousand 194 students and 59 teachers participated in the program.

Story by Dominic Hlordzi.

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