How to Protect Yourself from Cybercrime in Nigeria
Cybercrime is a new and ever-present threat to people the world over, and Nigerians aren’t safe from online criminals too.
In fact, Nigeria is the third most targeted country for cybercrime in Africa. Between the first and second quarters of 2021, there was a 32 percent jump in malware in trojan horse attacks in Nigeria.
The world of online crime can feel like a world away from your smartphone and work computer, yet it’s something that can affect nearly everyone.
With a recent speight of cybercrime cases in the country, we’re going to look at the cybercrime landscape and how you can protect yourself.
What is cybercrime?
At its root, cybercrime is any type of crime that can be committed online, through computers, laptops, smartphones, or tablets. Criminals use what they think is the anonymity of the internet to steal money and personal information.
There are lots of different types of cybercrime. Some of the common ones you’ve probably heard of include:
- Phishing, where the criminal tries to get you to reveal personal information by pretending to be your bank, the government, etc.
- Card fraud, when your credit or debit card details are stolen and used to buy things online
- Extortion, which is where the criminal will make threats to try and get you to send money
- Investment fraud, where a criminal makes a fake investment website to convince you to hand over cash to “invest”
- Ransomware, which is when malicious software infects your computer and stops it from working until you pay the criminal a ransom
How does cybercrime affect Nigeria?
We’ve already seen that financial cybercrime is on the uptick in Nigeria, so how does this affect your daily life?
There have been lots of international cybercriminals traced back to Nigeria recently. These include the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) arresting a man wanted by the FBI for US$100 million of wire fraud, 120 suspected cybercriminals taken into custody in Ibadan, and the case of a teenager recently sent to jail for impersonating celebrities in an attempt to get money from foreigners.
This may not feel relatable to you, with victims on different continents. However, the prevalence of cybercrime reaches deep into Nigeria, too.
Along with the increase in trojan horse attacks we’ve looked at, another interesting trend in Nigerian cybercrime is a marked reduction in smartphone-based attacks. The mobile threat for Nigerians had actually dropped by 59 percent.
Even with these positive trends, Nigeria is still in the top ten countries where people are likely to face an attack by mobile malware.
A new wave of cybercrime is also coming to the world and is hitting Nigeria, too. Even if you don’t know exactly what it is, you’ll know that cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin and Ethereum are worth big money.
According to the Head of Cybercrime Unit at the EFCC in Lagos, Whyte Iyowuna Dein, in 2021 0.17 percent of all Nigerian internet users were the target of cryptocurrency scams.
Giving an example of a recent cyber-scam, the Director of the Attorney General Alliance (AGA) Africa, Mr. Marcus Green noted one scheme offering people early access to vaccines if they owned Bitcoin. Most potential victims of the scam were initially contacted on social media like Facebook and Instagram – if you have an account on these sites, you could have fallen victim to it.
On a national scale, it’s estimated that N5.5 trillion has been lost to cybercrime and scams in the last decade. Indeed, 80% of all prosecutions bought by the EFCC were related to cybercrime – a stark figure that will only increase.
5 ways to protect yourself from cybercrime
It’s not all doom and gloom on the internet – there are lots of ways you can protect yourself, too. Here are five ways to can be proactive about your personal cybersecurity.
1. Be aware of security procedures
Cybercrime like phishing or confidence scams make you think you’re really dealing with your bank, for example. They trick you into giving out your personal security like PIN numbers and access codes. Make sure you know your bank’s security processes and never step out of line from them.
2. Use a VPN
You can stop cybercriminals from putting malicious software – known as malware – onto your computer and then tracking your activity by using a VPN. This simple online tool can mask your real location from the internet so you can have a level of anonymity. You can download a VPN and test for yourself how easy they are to set up.
3. Use other extra security measures
As well as protecting your internet access in general, you can make use of all the security features your apps and social accounts offer. Most platforms now offer two-factor authentication, or 2fa, where you enter a code from another app or an SMS to confirm it’s you.
4. Take your time online
One of the ways cybercriminals will catch you out is by creating a false sense of urgency. Always give yourself time to cool off when making a decision online, whether that’s whether to click on a link in an email or to send money to a website offering quick returns. Give yourself time to think it through and see if it feels too good to be true.
5. Download from reliable places
Avoid downloading apps from websites you find by clicking on ads or links online. Apple’s App Store and Android’s Play Store should only have secure, non-dangerous apps available. When you need to download something for your computer, be sure you trust the link source and don’t click on ads to get there.
Cybercrime can seem like a scary world of hackers and code, but it can be very real and affects Nigerians every day. You can take simple steps to keep yourself safe online and help you avoid losing your money and your pride.