By Emma Okonji
The US Consulate General in Lagos has 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.
Addressing a large gathering of people from across different sectors of the Nigerian economy during the 14th Annual National Cyber Security Awareness Month (NCSAM), organised by the US Consulate General in Lagos, in collaboration with government and industry players, the US Consul-General John Bray noted that Cybersecurity is everyone’s responsibility, even as he strongly advised on safe use of the internet.
The advice is coming on the heels of the increasing number of cyber attacks on individuals, organisations and government agencies across the globe, a situation that made the Cybersecurity Ventures to predict that the global community could lose more than $6 trillion annually by 2021, if enough awareness is not raised about cybersecurity.
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.
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, Mr. 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. He said several information were being traded online and advised people to be careful in giving out their personal or family information to strangers on the internet.
The Police, who was part of the forum, also delivered paper on cybercrime, and advised Nigerians to stay clear from online criminal activities, since the Police have been empowered by the 2015 Cybersecurity law to prosecute any offender.
The Chief Operating Officer, Cyber Code Ltd, Mr. Olatunji Igbalajobi, spoke on cyber ethics, while Mr. Paul Biba of the US Consulate General Lagos, spoke on the convergence of cybersecurity and traditional security in business and government.