Curbing cybercrime in Nigeria

11Nov 2016
The Guardian Reporter
The Guardian
Commentary
Curbing cybercrime in Nigeria

WITH the proliferation of internet across the country, cyber crime is becoming the new under world threat of this generation and it is growing daily at an alarming rate.

Though, the internet creates unlimited opportunity for commercial, social and educational activities but not without its own peculiar risk.

Youths who are the major culprits in this crime constitute a larger percentage of our population with the good number of them jobless and dependants. Little wonder why Nigerians are seen in other countries as fraudusters.

Technological advancement that should be seen as a positive development is being used as tool through various platforms like Facebook, Twitter, G.Mail, yahoo, Twitter among other social media to defraud the unsuspecting public. Most motives behind the crimes include making quick money, sexual harassment, playing pranks and causing mayhem.

Cyber frauds main targets are wealthy citizens, politicians, celebrities, banks, companies and naive individuals. Not even the cyber crime bill passed into law in 2014 by the legislature that offenders of all kinds of computer-related fraud will serve seven years jail term could stop them.

Recently, Adebayo Adelabu, Deputy Governor Financial system, Central Bank of Nigeria revealed that Nigeria banks lost a total of N159 billion to electronic fraud between 2000 and the first quarter of 2013.

It is an issue of serious national concern that youths, our so called pride of tomorrow’s future and today’s strength are using their talent wrongly which many had blamed on lack of parenting observations.

Just lost week, Aderinsola Adedoyin, a 29 years old computer engineer was caught in Lagos by law enforcement agent after defrauding some people claiming to be personal assistant of one of the presenters in TVC entertainment.

Speaking on how to curb cyber crime among youths, Ope Banwo, a lawyer and Internet Business expert who spoke on the TVC television explained that Nigeria has the most cyber crimes in the world and maintained that individuals should be responsible of his or her online responsibility.

“Individuals remain the number one person that should be responsible for whatever going on in his or her social media account .Due to this, everyone should take personal responsibility to protect his or her account against internet fraudsters.”

On how best to protect one’s social media account, Banwo advised everyone to have google alert which alert one anytime anyone use one’s name in any part of the world to open any account. He further commended the effort of Nigeria Communications Commission (NCC) to sanction a particular network provider for allowing the use of unregistered sim cards.
“Most SIM cards used in perpetrating this fraud are not registered which makes it easy for cyber crime to thrive across the country.

There are several ways youth can make use of the internet to make money legitimately rather than defrauding anyone”.A public servant, Eno Ekpo though, condemned youths for using internet to perpetrate evil and cause untold hardships and pains to the victims but also blame those falling to cyber crime as those who are not upright.

“People that are swindled through the internet are also culpable because they have some level of immoralities and greeds in them. They should also be treated as fraudsters.

“How can anyone call me to come and pay for a product I did not order for initially? Or someone telling me to come and pay for a form to get a letter of employment when I did not apply for any job or attend any interview. These are the facts we should face. It is only those that want to cut corners that mostly fall victims of cyber crime.

She however appealed to parents to create time for their children and be more aware of their children’s friends and internet activities . “It is very important to know what your children are doing when they are online and know who they are associating with.“Parents should be more proactive with their children and discuss these ethical dilemmas to using a computer .

People should also be mindful of what information they post online because most of these cyber fraudsters act on tip off” she advised.She further noted that bringing perpetrators of cyber crime to book will further discourage many who are into it.

Information and Communication Technology (ICT) systems are now as basic to our lives as water and electricity. Many individuals, corporate organisations and government agencies depend on ICT and computer networks to perform simple as well as complex tasks - from social networking and research to business and commerce.

However, the cyberspace is increasingly becoming vulnerable as many businesses, agencies and individuals are being swindled by cyber criminals not only within the country but around the world.

Cybercrime, as most people are already aware, refers to those criminal acts such as identity theft and bank frauds facilitated through the use of the internet. But as most Nigerians also know, to our collective shame, our country is often cited as a breeding ground for many of these nefarious practices because of the activities of some of our citizens.

In the last few years, many criminal elements in Nigeria have been using these modern telecommunication networks such as the internet and mobile phones to commit all manner of crimes that give us a bad image globally.

Indeed, there is an upsurge of cybercrime in Nigeria. The country is ranked third in global internet crime after the United States of America and United Kingdom while 7.5 per cent of the world's hackers are said to be Nigerians.

Committed mostly by the young, often called "Yahoo" boys, a precursor of the infamous '419' email scammers, the fraudsters are increasingly taking advantage of the rise in online transactions, electronic shopping, e-commerce and the electronic messaging systems to engage in heinous crime.

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) reported last year that 70 per cent of attempted or successful fraud/forgery cases in the Nigerian banking system were perpetrated via the electronic channels. Between 2000 and 2013, banks in the country lost N159 billion to electronic frauds and cybercrime.

In 2014, bank customers lost about N6 billion in Nigeria while in South Africa, the loss amounted to about N8 billion. Indeed, security experts said last week during the 2016 Cybersecurity Awareness Month in Lagos that financial losses to cybercrime may rise to $6 trillion globally by 2021.

Last week, Adebayo Shittu, Minister of Communications, spoke about the rate of cyber related offences such as fraudulent financial transactions and child kidnapping, facilitated through internet communications has increased in recent years.

"If African leaders failed to address this threat, there will be negative impacts on economic growth, foreign investment and security," said Shittu. "An effective response to cybercrimes requires a robust network security including appropriate network architecture and software, use of encryption, data protection legislation, information security standards and other tools of threat protection and detection."

In 2015, the Cybercrimes Act was passed into law to address the challenges. The law criminalises a variety of offences - from ATM card skimming to identity theft.

It imposes, for instance, seven years imprisonment for offenders of all kinds and additional seven years for online crimes that result in physical harm, and life imprisonment for those that lead to death. But like almost every law in the country, there is the problem of enforcement.

The "yahoo boys" still daily throng cybercafé premises to "transact" their business with the owners looking away. Yet the law criminalises internet café owners who allow their premises to be used to commit online crimes.

In response to the apparent failure of the law to address the growing challenge, the minister canvassed the need to improve the capacity of relevant ICT and cyberspace stakeholders for the training and support of cyber security officials and the sharing of cyber security best practice from across the globe. These are in addition to building the capacity of local law enforcement. The time to do that is now.