Clipping cybercrime wings in Nigeria

Clipping cybercrime wings in Nigeria

As global concern for cybercrime is upbeat, the need for cyber security in the country against the backdrop of the identification of Nigeria as one of the weakest link in the battle against such crime is the thrust of this discourse.

How many fraudulent unsolicited mails do you receive daily? While for some it’s just a few, for others, the mails come in torrents with some defying all logic. That the obvious reason behind these mails is a ploy to defraud unsuspecting Nigerians does not make it any better. Today, the world has become that of scammers, who capitalise on the vulnerability of their prey to wreak havoc.

There is no meaningful and constructive business facet that can thrive in an atmosphere of insecurity and absence of trust. American journalist, satirist, cultural critic and scholar of American English, H.L Mencken (1880 –1956), once said: “it is mutual trust, even more than mutual interest that holds human associations together.”

Trust is the soul of any business, thus before any individual, corporate organisation, or nation seeks a business fellowship with another, the trust and confidence implications of the relationship or association is considered critically. It becomes more critical in contemporary times when globalisation, the Internet, and the quest to rescue third world and developing nations from the throes of poverty and underdevelopment.

Today, the cyber space now defines the world in which we live because of the momentum Internet transactions are gaining every day. From business, industry, government to not-for-profit organisations, the Internet has simplified business processes such as sorting, summarising, coding, editing, customised and generic report generation in a real-time processing mode.

However, it has also brought unintended consequences such as criminal activities, spamming, credit card frauds, ATM frauds, phishing, identity theft and a blossoming haven for cybercriminal miscreants to perpetrate their insidious acts.

There are a number of delinquents, now on the increase, who would use the cyberspace in a rather negative way. The exceptional outbreak of cybercrime in Nigeria in recent times was quite alarming, and the negative impact on the socio-economy of the country is highly disturbing.

Impact of cybercrime on Nigeria

Last week, the Director-General, National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), Dr. Isa Patanmi, revealed that Nigeria suffered about 2,175 cyber-attacks in 2015.

Patanmi, who disclosed this at the inauguration of a committee to implement the national cyber security strategy in Abuja, said a total of 585 government-owned websites were among the 2,175 Nigeria websites hacked in 2015.

According to him, about 14 per cent of the 97 million Internet users in Nigeria suffered cyber-attacks, which he said had necessitated the setting up of a Cyber Security Committee.

Indeed, over the past 20 years, immoral cyberspace users have continued to use the Internet to commit crimes; this has evoked mixed feelings of admiration and fear in the general populace along with a growing unease about the state of cyber and personal security. This phenomenon has seen sophisticated and extraordinary increase recently and has called for quick response in fast tracking the implementation of Cybercrime Act, which was passed into law in May 2015, which is expected to protect the cyber space and its users.

An ICT security consultant and a member of Nigeria Cyber Crime Working Group (NCWG), Tunji Ogunleye, in a report, obtained by The Guardian, lamented that the rate of e-crime in the country has outgrown the rate of Internet usage.

According to him, Nigeria is the 56th out of 60 countries embracing Internet usage but third in the fraud attempt category. “We are tempted to ask why there is such an upsurge of e-crime in Nigeria and what are the factors that make Nigerians so vulnerable to e-crime?”

At the National Cyber Security Awareness Month Event organised by American Embassy in Lagos, last year, Chairman, Cyber Security Experts Association of Nigeria (CSEAN), Remi Afon, while lamenting the negative impact the menace is having on the country, called for concerted efforts in crushing its growing influence.

Afon, who made reference to a Symantec report, hinted that Cybercrime has now surpassed illegal drug trafficking as a criminal money-maker, adding that somebody’s identity is stolen every three seconds as a result of the menace.

The CSEAN chairman said another research firm, Verizon, found that 89 per cent of breaches had a financial or espionage motive while Forbes projects that cybercrime costs would reach $2 trillion by 2019. Cybersecurity Ventures also forecasts that cybercrime damages are expected to cost the world $6 trillion by 2021.

In Nigeria, there has been an increase in online presence, as there are currently close 97 million Nigerian Internet users, according to the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC).

Afon reiterated the fact that between 2012 and 2014, Nigeria lost N64 billion to cybercrimes menace. This is even as Ultrascan, another tech-focused research firm, found that the cost of cybercrime originating from Nigeria globally is valued at $9.3 billion.

The Minister of Communications, Barrister Adebayo Shittu, had at different fora, lamented that the country loses N127 billion yearly to cybercrime menace, and called for greater efforts among stakeholders in mitigating the growing trends.

According to the Executive Vice Chairman of NCC, Prof. Umar Danbatta, there is a tendency for cybercrimes to increase if nothing concrete is done to curb the trend, as the country begins 4G-LTE revolution with unhindered access to the Internet.

He explained that the expected explosion in high-speed Internet access also meant “both those who use the Internet for legitimate and illegitimate businesses will now have increased access to the Internet.”

Noting “all around the globe, we have seen individuals, companies and governments become the victims of cyber-attacks,” the US Consul General in Nigeria, John Bray, said that cyber awareness is everyone’s responsibility, calling on everyone to “join in cyber security awareness efforts across the country.”

He advocated robust collaborations and awareness creation among various stakeholders in Nigeria and beyond to stem the tide of cybercrimes globally.

Stakeholders to discuss way forward
It is against this backdrop, that the flagship of the Nigerian media, The Guardian, is organising a maiden one-day cyber security conference in Lagos, the nation’s economic capital.

With the theme, “Monitoring, Detection and Prevention: Keys to Organisational Growth”, the conference holds February 23, 2017 at the Federal Palace Hotel, Victoria Island, Lagos by 9:00 a.m.

Speakers at the event, whose chief host is Governor Akinwunmi Ambode, include the Director, Banking and Payment System, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Dipo Fatokun; Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Makeway International, United Kingdom (U.K.), Kola Olutimehin, and the Senior Partner, Lockwire Security, East Midlands, U.K., Anthony Maxwell.

According to The Guardian, the conference aims to bring to the fore current global best practices in integrated network defence systems and other broad strategies employed in cyber security.

The forum will also provide exposure to proven, standards-based methodologies for assessing and managing the risks to organisations’ information systems and infrastructure as well as provide exposure to intrusion detection and prevention systems and strategies.

The forum will further expose participants to up-to-date digital forensic investigation techniques, identity/access management to Information Communication Technology (ICT) resources; building the right public key infrastructure (PKI) to manage enterprise trust as well as expose participants to key online transactions monitoring and security techniques.

The conference, which costs N120, 000, has its strategic partners to include Lagos State and the CBN.Expected at the meeting are ICT managers, top executives, bankers, accountants, auditors, company treasurers, marketing managers, officials of EFCC, ICPC, Customs, Police, Army, Navy, NDLEA, e-payment companies; revenue collectors, among others.

On the speakers, Maxwell is an IT security specialist with a 15-year background securing Windows and Linux systems. He is a qualified CISSP with certifications in ISO 27001 auditing and digital forensics among others.

Olutimehin is an astute professional consultant with a wide clientele base for almost two decades.While experts will try to dissect to the fullest, the issue, it must be stated that no Internet business will thrive on a compromised and exploiting framework. Strengthening our cyber infrastructure, no doubt increases trust and builds confidence in customers and prospective clients.

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