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At The Guardian’s forum, experts seek stricter measures against cybercrime

By Adeyemi Adepetun
24 February 2017   |   4:25 am
To curtail cybercrime in Nigeria and other parts of Africa, experts have canvassed a stricter and multi- pronged approach.

• Menace rises by 38%, costs $550m in Nigeria
• Osinbajo commends newspaper’s initiative

To curtail cybercrime in Nigeria and other parts of Africa, experts have canvassed a stricter and multi- pronged approach.

The cost of cybercrime which rose globally by 38 per cent in 2016, has been estimated to have hit $550 million in Nigeria.

Cybercrime is fast-growing as more and more criminals exploit the speed, convenience and anonymity of the Internet.

At the maiden edition of the cyber security conference in Lagos with the theme “Monitoring, Detection and Prevention: Keys to Organisational Growth” organised by The Guardian, the experts called for better monitoring strategies that will help check the crime.

In his goodwill message, the Acting President, Yemi Osinbajo, said while government was keen on enthroning a digital economy, avenues that would give room to cybercriminals must be blocked thoroughly.

While commending The Guardian for pioneering an initiative such as the cybercrime conference, Osinbajo said that government would enthrone the right environment that is secure for businesses to thrive, especially as it relates to ICT development in the areas of cloud computing, smart cities and cyber security, among others.

Represented by his Senior Special Adviser on ICT, Lanre Osibona, the Acting President disclosed that a 31-member Cybercrime Advisory Council had been inaugurated and would work closely with the private sector to curb the menace. He noted that the challenges of cybercrime globally are high, “so as a nation, we must work hard to defeat it. More work needs to be done and government must work with the private sector.”

In his goodwill message, the Governor of Lagos State, Akinwunmi Ambode, described cybercrime as a global phenomenon which poses a potent threat to national security, organisational survival and corporate growth, among others.

According to Ambode, who was represented by the Commissioner for Science and Technology, Olufemi Odubiyi, ICT has been one of the defining moments of the 20th century, which have resulted in a paradigm shift in the way things used to be done.

“The benefits that have continued to accrue to humanity with the advent of ICT cannot be quantified, while the issues of cyber fraud, hacking, among others cannot be completely wiped out. The challenges, which I believe, are the reasons for this conference, would continuously lead to the development of strategies that would prevent unauthorised access to vital or critical information and other resources.”

In her opening address, the Publisher of The Guardian, Lady Maiden Alex-Ibru, while appreciating the participants, defined a cybercrime as one in which computer is the object of the crime or is used as a tool to commit an offence. She stressed that offenders may use computer technology to access personal or commercial information, or use the Internet for exploitive or malicious purposes.

According to her, Nigeria has shown a growing awareness of the need to strengthen cyber security, which includes initiating the registration of GSM users in 2011 and 2014 and the Central Bank of Nigeria launching a centralised biometric identification system for the banking industry, tagged Bank Verification Number (BVN).

The publisher reminded the audience that the Cybercrimes Act 2015 was the first legislation in Nigeria that deals specifically with cyber security, which was passed in May 2015 and gives effect to the 2011 ECOWAS Directive on fighting cybercrime.

She described the Cybercrime Act 2015 as a landmark legislation, representing the country’s first foray into legislating on cyber security, “however, it must be seen as a first step that must be built into an institution.”

According to her, the remedy to many of these problems lies in the implementation of the Act, “the bodies charged with this—the NSA, the AGF and the Council, must make efforts to enforce the Act in a way that doesn’t create unnecessary hinderance to business activities.”

Presenting the Nigeria Cyber Security Report 2016, the Founder/Chief Executive Officer of Demadiur Systems Limited, Ikechukwu Nnamani, said while the total cost of cybercrime in Africa hit $2 billion in 2016, Nigeria had the highest with $550 million, followed by Kenya $175 million; Tanzania $85 million; Ghana $50 million; and Uganda $35 million.

Senior Partner, Lockwire Security, East Midlands, UK, Anthony Maxwell, said 18 million new samples of malware were detected in 2016, amounting to 50,000 per day.

He put the average cost of data breach in 2016 at $4 million, with the number of incidents increasing by 38 per cent higher than 2015 in which most cybercrimes were not detected until afterwards.

To the CEO, Makeway International, UK, Kola Olutimehin, there is the need for more awareness, especially in the area of education, on the fight against cybercrimes.

Olutimehin stressed the need to have a structure in place in the fight against cybercriminals, stressing that most times assets are at risk.

Representing the Director, Payment System, CBN, Dipo Fatokun, the Deputy Director in the department, Musa Itopa Jimoh, said the apex bank had directed all financial institutions to establish fraud desks to provide avenues for industry response against fraud.

He revealed that the CBN fraud index showed that there had been reduction in fraud across the counter by 35 per cent, and over the ATM by 33 per cent.