Senate Asks NSA to Alert Financial Institutions, Agencies on Heightened Threats to Cyber Security

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Investigates alleged fraud in AEDC’s estimated billing system
James Emejo in Abuja
The Senate on Tuesday called on the National Security Adviser (NSA) to alert all security agencies and financial institutions in the country on the increasing dimensions of cyber-attacks.

It further passed a resolution mandating the Senate Committee on ICT and Cybercrime to immediately convoke a national stakeholder conference on cyber security with a view to stimulating a collective reflection among relevant stakeholders and articulating a national and broad-based approach to keep the country ahead of the challenge.

The Senate resolve followed a motion moved by Senator Buhari Abdulfatai (Oyo North) over the worrisome dimension of cybercrime and insecurity and the urgent need for concerted efforts to secure Nigeria’s cyberspace.

Also, the Senate passed a resolution to conduct thorough investigation over allegations that the Abuja Electricity Distribution Company (AEDC) was defrauding Nigerians through the estimated billing of electricity consumers.
The resolution was consequent upon a motion sponsored by Senator Dino Melaye who cited section 42 of the Senate Standing Rule to draw attention to what he called “astronomical billing” by AEDC.

However, the lawmakers had expressed worry over revelations from studies indicating that over 70 per cent of hacking attempts- about 3,500 cyber-attacks on the Nigeria lCT space-time had been successful, resulting in loss of over $450 million while government servers are currently under serious threat.

Lawmakers were further alarmed by oversight findings of the Senate Committee on ICT and Cybercrime which revealed that ICT shortfall in the country was enormous.
Findings further suggested that Nigeria’s cyber space was porous and that the system lacked a well-structured and effective approach to cybercrime control.

The Senate further raised concern that in view of voluntary and involuntary insider compromise, together with poor information technology standards in the country, Nigeria’s security and financial system could be an easy prey to the heightened threatening ramifications of e-crime.
It said that there was an urgent need to up-scale the country’s consciousness towards protection of the country’s cyber space.

It expressed worry that cyber-attacks are taking a dangerous dimension all over the world, a clear example being for the Lloyds Banking Group and Barclays Bank of UK which suffered 48-hour online attack in which the criminals attempted to block about 20 million accounts, bombarded Lloyds, Halifax and Bank of Scotland with millions of fake requests designed to grind the groups’ systems to a halt and asked for a huge ransom in bitcoins to end the attacks which were being prevented by the Denial of Access (DOS) system.

Meanwhile, Melaye had further alleged that the AEDC officials were always at his residence to change his prepaid meter to a new one only to replace it weeks after.

He said consequently, the company had placed his house on the estimated billing system which he described as “very astronomical and unfair.”
He further expressed fear that the distribution company had been subjecting the indigenes of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) to unfair payment of fees which breaches all rules of transparency.
He, therefore, wondered how the ordinary Nigerian could afford such high rates if he who was privileged found it difficult to pay.

He said: “If me that is a privileged Nigerian is undergoing this pain and agonising over the astronomical fees, what do we say about the man in Aguileri or the young palm wine tapper in Otuoke.
“We must speak for those who cannot speak for themselves, we must discuss this issue of estimated billing by all distribution companies in Nigeria.”
The motion is expected to be further debated today.