Cybercrimes: FG Begins Fresh Moves to Curb N78bn Annual Losses

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Emma Okonji

Worried about the growing rate of cybercrimes in the country, which has resulted in about N78billion annual losses, the federal government has begun fresh moves that would help curb the menace of cyberspace activities that are beginning to unsettle banks, owing to the high rate of financial fraud in the banking sector.

Aside financial sector, the cybercrime activities in the country are also affecting businesses within the private and public sectors, thus creating business downtime that is impacting negatively on the revenue generation of both the small and big organisations.

In order to address the ugly trend and restore confidence among organisations doing business in the country, the federal government, through the Ministry of Communications, has expressed its readiness to partner agencies that will assist in catalysing and developing world-class human and institutional capacity in cyber security, designed to address cyber insecurity in the country.

The Minister of Communications, Adebayo Shittu who expressed the readiness of the ministry in curbing cybercrime, said: “The ministry is living up to its expectation of sensitising, raising awareness and impacting skills on cyber protection by creating the Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT) to handle computer security incidents and examine the implementation framework of the Cybersecurity Act with amendments where necessary in collaboration with the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA).”

The Minister, who gave the assurance in a keynote address at the National Computer Science Conference on Cyber Security & The Emerging African Economies at the Igbinedion University, Okada, Edo State, said the move became imperative, owing to the huge losses suffered by banks and other organisations to cyber theft.

He stated the need for other frameworks across all strata of public and private sectors to arrest the crime that has spread beyond imagination.
“The need for other frameworks like cyber security awareness across business and members of the public; cooperative arrangements between law enforcement and communication service provider across the nation and a criminal justice system that facilitates the efficient prosecution of cases of cybercrime are very germane,” Shittu said.

The minister disclosed that Nigeria currently loses about N78 billion annually to the activities of cyber criminals who target financial institutions, and government’s Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) as well as their affiliates.

He emphasised the need for the enactment and enforcement of policies to ensure cyber security within the information and communications technology (ICT) and financial institutions.
Such policies, he noted, should address the framework of cyber risk management, enforcing security through a ‘defense in-depth’ strategy as well as enforcing vigilance through early detection and signaling system.

Speaking on the indispensability of the cyberspace to global development, Shittu said the internet and digital technologies were the biggest transformational forces in the world today with over five billion internet-connected devices globally generating over $10 billion to the global economy in 2015.

In comparison to physical space, he noted that cyberspace is virtually co-ubiquitous, operationally more efficient, socio-politically more vibrant, economically as resourceful, and information-wise more integrated and has become a fundamental feature of the world we live in.
“The changing nature of economic and territorial threats has become a major concern. The growing role of cyberspace has opened up new threats as well as new opportunities. As a country, we have to find ways to confront and overcome these threats if we are to remain functional as a sovereign entity in an increasingly competitive and globalised world,” the minister said.

He added that recently, an agency under his ministry, the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), informed the public that Nigeria lost about N159 billion in the last 13 years to cybercrime, but explained that the ministry would leverage the active support of the ICT stakeholders by building all requisite ICT and cyberspace capacities in the country.
This, he said “is in line with the repeated assertion of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration that ICT is the envisaged bedrock of Nigeria’s Change Agenda”.

The minister therefore charged leaders of African countries to urgently scale up efforts to combat cybercrimes through a multi-stakeholders approach involving government, industry and civil society organisations within the context of the African Union Convention on Cyberspace Security and Protection of Personal data to stem the threats posed by cybercriminals to their national economic security.