With about 3.9 billion users, the internet has become one of the greatest technological developments which is widely accepted for its ease and efficiency.
Technological advancements and development have led to the emergence of cyber crime.
Cybercrime, which involves any crime committed with the aid of a computer and network like phishing, bank verification number scams, fraudulent emails, hacking, cyber harassment, spamming, social media hijacking etc, exploits vulnerabilities of both electronic devices and their users.
Factors such as high rate of unemployment, quest for wealth, lack of strong cybercrime laws, and incompetent security on personal devices have made cybercrime a significant problem for the country. The estimated annual financial loss in Nigeria due to cybercrime was N250 billion in 2017 and N288 billion in 2018.
People involved in such fraudulent practice find it as an easy way of making money. As the threat of cybercrime is becoming more intense, there is need for collaborative efforts between individuals, businesses, government and the international community. Reforms such as increasing awareness on the mode of operations of cyber criminals, improved personal security, are vital in combating cyber crimes.
In the effort to combat cybercrimes, the Nigeria government through the Central Bank of Nigeria introduced a risk-based cyber security framework and guidelines for deposit money banks and payment service providers. The significance of this framework is to lay out proactive steps to acquire critical information assets including customers’ information that are accessible on the internet.
There are many initiatives and frameworks employed by different countries to combat cyber crimes, which the Nigeria government can emulate. For instance, the Canadian government has established an Anti-Fraud Centre which is the central agency in Canada that collects information and criminal intelligence on cybercrimes.
In 2018, the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre received 59,009 fraud reports from victims and businesses, with losses totaling $97,654,160.35. However, the centre estimates that less than 5% of fraud victims file a report, which poses a challenge in its ability to provide current information on ways to prevent similar attack.
Nigeria is experiencing a surge in cybercrimes supported by poor economic conditions, high rate of unemployment and the quest for quick wealth which are the two major factors which drive individuals towards cybercrime
This threat poses a great risk, which can only be eliminated through the strict enforcement of cybercrime laws and a strong economy.
However the Nigerian government could help mitigate cyber crimes and threats if action is taken like creating awareness on simple security tips such as having an updated and recognized anti-virus software, avoiding pop-ups requiring personal information, using strong passwords, and ignoring emails or calls requiring financial details to help unblock cards or accounts and also establishing anti-fraud centers to combat cyber crimes in the country.
Ibrahim Hassan Mshelia,
Department of Mass Communication,
University of Maiduguri