Consulate raises alarm on increasing cybercrime, sees losses hit $6T


• NCC to intensify fight against menace

The United States of America (USA) Consulate in Nigeria is worried about the increasing cybercrime rate in Nigeria and other part of the world.

Referencing the Cybersecurity Ventures, which predicted that the global community will lose more than $6 trillion yearly by 2021, the US Consulate called for concerted efforts to clip its wing.

For effect, the US Consulate General, John Bray, speaking at 14th Annual National Cyber Security Awareness Month (NCSAM), organised by the Consulate in Lagos, encouraged Nigerians and the rest of the world to guard against possible cyber attacks and to be more cautious and avoid releasing information that could be used against them, while browsing online.

Bray noted that Cybersecurity is everyone’s responsibility, even as he strongly advised on safe use of the Internet.

In a related development, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has said it will not relent in the fight against cybercrime in the country.

According to him, with the number of Internet users growing daily, law enforcement officials expect the number of victims to increase, as well as the value of their losses.

Already, experts have also estimated that without good cybersecurity in place, nearly half of the entire G-20 economy will be lost to cybercriminals.

Bray stressed the need for increased awareness on cybersecurity matters, which he said, remained critical to any nation. He said the awareness campaign was designed to help encourage individuals to protect their computers and the nation’s critical cyber infrastructure, in an era of increased cyber attacks.

“All around the globe, we have seen individuals, companies, and governments become the victims of cyber attacks.

“For this reason, in 2009, a former US President Barak Obama called for an increase in education and dialogue about cybersecurity in the Cyberspace Security Review. As part of the policy review, the Department of Homeland Security created an ongoing Cybersecurity awareness campaign -Stop.Think.Connect, which is a national public awareness campaign designed to raise awareness on cybersecurity and make people more vigilant to achieve the practice of safe online habits,” Bray said.

He enjoined Nigerians to be part of the campaign strategy, which he said, would afford them the opportunity to be connected to partners and subject matter experts who are committed to increasing online safety, cybersecurity tips, messaging, articles, and presentations, and monthly discussions highlighting current cyber issues and trends.

Speaking on general cybercrime activities in West Africa, the representative of the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in Nigeria, Rolland Avedician, said the average age of cybercriminals across West Africa is between 19 and 29 years, while stressing the need to address this group of teenagers on how best to use their talents and energies.

He said the proliferation of smartphone devices across West Africa and the entire globe, has led to the increase in mobile phone attacks, and warned mobile phone users whose phones are connected to the Internet, to be more cautious while using their mobile phones and mobile devices to browse the Internet.

Speaking at the second Workshop of the Industry Group (IWG) on electronic banking fraud at the Digital Bridge Institute (DBI), Kano, recently, the Executive Commissioner, Technical Services, NCC, Ubale Maska, said the staggering level of fraud in the industry led to the constitution of the IWG which is saddled with the responsibility of proffering solutions to the rising rate of electronic fraud in the country.

During his presentation titled: “Electronic Banking Fraud in Nigeria – Challenges and Way Forward”, , a Deputy Director at the NCC, Bako Wakil, said it became necessary to grab the bull by the horn, following a visit by the Deputy Governor of the CBN to management of the NCC to discuss the prevalence of banking fraud using telecommunications infrastructure. This was necessitated, after petitions by Nigerian banks to the Apex bank began to raise red-flags at the sophisticated methods employed by cyber criminals via telecoms infrastructure in defrauding unsuspecting customers.

Wakil said the Terms of Reference for the committee was to look at the technicality and security of mobile banking; awareness issues in mobile banking; SIM card replacement processes; SIM card cloning as well as unsolicited text messages.

The sub-committee which was set-up acknowledged that banking fraud is a growing national problem which fleeces innocent Nigerians of their earnings daily and came up with 21 recommendations categorised into Short-Term, Mid-Term and Long Term, with the aim of checkmating this growing threat to Nigerians. The IWG is expected to meet quarterly to review the progress and address new challenges facing the sector.

In this article:
CybercrimeJohn BrayNCC


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