Information and Communications Technology (ICT) experts have raised the alarm over the rise in cybercrime activities, which have continued to threaten the safety and security of the Nigeria, resulting in the loss of huge amount of money yearly.
The experts, who raised the concern at the ongoing 26th National Conference of the Nigeria Computer Society (NCS), said some Nigerians were taking undue advantage of digital infrastructure, to pose grave threats to national security.
Specifically, the Minister of Communications Technology, Adebayo Shittu, who frowned on the situation, stated the need to address the issue, by using technology tools to avert further loss of money. He said it was reported earlier that Nigeria loses about N127billion to cybercrime yearly, but insisted that such huge losses can be curbed using relevant technology tools.
“It is quite shocking that Nigeria loses about N127 billion, which is 0.08 per cent of the country’s Gross Domestic Products (GDP), yearly to cybercrime,” Adebayo said.
According to him, more Nigerians now have access to internet facilities, and they use the enormous opportunities this digital infrastructure brings to work, transact business, campaign, communicate, learn, interact and relax.
“Today, banking, commercial and other critical services are being provided online. Evidence however abounds of growing electronic fraud and threats to digital databases both private and government, Adebayo added.
He however explained that in view of the critical nature of the economy and government activities, it is obvious that protection from different types of cyber and terrorist attacks is required. Software piracy, identity theft, electronic fraud, online spam, intellectual property theft and malware attacks can all lead to devastating and far reaching consequences. “In addition to the activities of hackers and cyber bandits, we know cyber space is also being exploited to aid violent extremism, especially among the youth,” the minister said.
Proffering solution to the challenge, Shittu said government has set up computer emergency response teams through the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA) and the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA). To further improve the nation’s preparedness to secure cyberspace, the Cybercrime Advisory Council has also been inaugurated. The council is expected to facilitate the implementation of the Cybercrime Act, 2015, as well as the National Cybersecurity Policy and Strategy, the minister said.
President of NCS, Professor Adesola Aderounmu, who spoke in the same vein, said protection of lives and property remained the major function and responsibility of any government.
He said: “All over the world, no nation is excluded from the challenges of insecurity. Murder, armed robbery, terrorism, cultism and other crimes abound, despite the best efforts of security and law enforcement agencies.”
While calling for a more proactive Information Technology approach to combating the menace of insecurity, he noted the NCS has diligently over the past few months, canvassed the use of IT towards resolving of national safety and security in Nigeria.
On his part, the Chief Executive Officer of Teledom Group, Dr. Emmanuel Ekuwem raised the alarm that the country borders are porous and that Nigeria needed to install more close circuit television (CCTV) cameras on major security check points. He also called for the need to train security personnels on the proper use security gadgets.
Similarly, the Director General, Delta State Innovation Hub (DS-IHUB), Chris Uwaje, , said security issues should be domesticated by using data to track movements of terrorists. He called for a national information security cyber bill that would help address the issue of insecurity in the country.
The minister however said that resolving security challenges in Nigeria is the IT imperative. According to him, “though dwindling oil revenues makes it essential to position the IT industry as a national revenue earner, it is also a security enabler. I therefore urge technology experts within NCS to view IT for national safety and security beyond a narrow focus on the usual security concerns.”
There is need to expand the scope of IT for national safety and security as an outstanding and indispensable revenue earner, job creator, youth developer, innovation enabler and growth stimulator, the minister said.
He added that while pushing through IT to improve national safety and security, Nigeria must ensure that there is considerable value addition through local content development, which he said, would foster revenue generation for the private and public sectors, grow the IT sector, create more jobs, facilitate global competitiveness and stimulate growth in the economy.