- Seek industry synergy for secure cyber space
Stakeholders who gathered at this year’s edition of the African Digital Awards (ADA) have expressed worry over and seek measures to curb N127 billion annual estimated economic losses to rising wave of cybercrimes in the country.
ADA is a twin programme, which annually features an award ceremony after an intensive workshop tagged Nigeria ICT Impact CEO Forum (NIICF), where critical issues affecting the industries are assessed and solutions proffered by industry regulators and stakeholders from the private sector of the industry.
Awardees at this year’s ADA leg of the event included Most Outstanding Telecoms Company of the Year which went to MTN Nigeria; Regulator of the Year was clinched by Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Most Outstanding Government Agency of the Year grabbed by Nigerian Communications Satellite Limited (NigComSat Ltd.) and away ICT Woman of the Year won by the due Chief Executive Officers of NIGCOMSAT, Ms Abimbola Alale and Chief Executive Officer of MainOne, Ms Funke Opeke.
Also, the award jury rated Kunle Azeez of New Telegraph as Most Outstanding ICT Editor of the Year; former President of the Nigeria Internet Group (NIG), Engr. Bayo Banjo emerged as Broadcast Personality of the Year; Chief Executive Officer of Teledom Group, Dr. Emmanuel Ekuwem, won Broadband Luminary Award; Mr. Babatunde Mo’ Aguda emerged winner of Youth Innovative Award while Mr. Chris Kehinde Nwandu won Most Outstanding Online Editor of the Year.
Meanwhile, discussions at this year’s forum NIICF forum was around “Broadband Access: the Challenges of Cyber Security: Threats and Effect on Social Media Era.
While the issue of cybercrime, in its ramifications is said to be a global phenomenon, the stakeholders, including the Ministry of Communications, Nigerian Communication Commission (NCC), Nigerian Communication Satellite Limited (NIGCOMSAT), MTN, MainOne, Association of Telecoms Companies of Nigeria (ATCON), among others were on accord that Nigeria needed to develop a strategy backed with thorough implementation of the Cybercrime Act, 2015 towards curbing the economic losses.
According to them, In Nigeria and other countries around the world, the internet has become an integral part of everyday life and has become a key development index, whose measurement is taken by development-oriented organisations and agencies.
While noting that there was no doubt about the positive impact of the internet and its peripheral technologies in enhancing people’s daily lives, they were also on accord that Internet has brought about the advent of cybercrimes, which are now threatening the socio-economic landscape of people across the globe.
Speaking at the forum recently held at the Oriental Hotel in Lekki, Lagos, Minister of Communications, Mr. Adebayo Shittu, noted that within a short period of time, Internet had evolved from being a simple tool for accessing information and conducting communication and commerce to becoming a significant venue for social activity and interaction.
He, however, said that whilst this means better and more convenient services and a boost in the economy, it also creates a viable avenue for cyber attacks and criminal activities which could cripple or destabilise the national system. “As the world increasingly depends on technology and the cyberspace, especially increasing access to broadband for daily businesses, it gets more and more insecure.
Yearly, he said thousands of cybersecurity problems are identified in cyber space and technologies from known and unknown global actors leaving Internet users vulnerable.
Shittu said cybersecurity is more than a challenge for government as it poses a huge obstacle to the country’s digital transformation agenda in social and economy desired for the country, stressing, however, that the Federal Government has estimated an annual loss of over N127 billion to cybercrime activities in the nation, the minister said.
According to him, “Nigeria has had its fair share of cybercrimes between 2016 and 2017 alone, stressing that the recession in 2016 brought about numerous attacks targeted at organisations and individuals.” Noting the most recent targets in Nigeria were unsuspecting patronisers of ponzi schemes.
“In the wave of austerity, many people lost money to the said schemes carried out through cyber platforms and others fell victims to malicious and compromising websites.”
Indeed, in the electronic payment space, data from the Nigerian Inter-bank settlement Systems Plc (NIBSS) showed that in the first quarter of this year, over N374 million was lost to different cases of electronic frauds.
Meanwhile, Executive Vice Chairman of NCC, Prof Umar Danbatta, explained while development of regulatory framework for broadband penetration, licensing of infrastructure service providers, issuance of wireless broadband licence and the offering of more wireless broadband frequency and services are part of the Commission’s efforts towards ensuring deepen broadband access, the Commission has been collaborating with necessary stakeholders in order to work together to also tackle rising wave of cybercrimes.
“For instance, the Commission, among others, is partnering with the ITU to establish in Nigeria a Regional Cybersecurity Centre (RCC) for Africa,” Danbatta said. ‘The centre, which will be sited in Abuja, will provide support in the area of technical manpower training, information sharing and other collaborative roles with local Computer Security Incidence Response Team (CESIRT).”
Also Convener of the forum, Mr. Tayo Adewusi, said as individuals get exposed to cyber crimes, “companies are also exposed to the risks in the course of interacting with their supply chain, partners and customers but all said and done, President of the Association of Telecoms Companies of Nigeria (ATCON), Mr, Olusola Teniola, said there was a need for government to create more enabling environment for service providers and collaborate with them more in order to sanitise the industry.
Partner, M.A Banire & Associates, Mr. Kunle Adegoke, stressed the need for effective implementation of the Cyber Crime Act, 2015, saying “what we need is to be religious about the implementation and then not lose the sight of the fact that technology is always ahead of law and ‘so, the law must be subjected to periodic review and amendments in order to make it relevant at all time no matter the advancement in technology space.”
Chief Executive Officer, MainOne, Ms Funke Opeke, who also made a presentation that in capturing the broadband demand in the country, there was a need to encourage last-mile transmission of humongous internet bandwidth seating in the shores of Lagos to the nooks and crannies of the country to ensure wider access to broadband services. “Also, other challenges relating to multiple taxation, multiple regulation, vandalism and denial of right of way (RoW) must be addressed,” she added.
In the same vein, Chief Executive Officer of NIGCOMSAT, Ms. Abimbola Alale, disclosed that while her organisation has been collaborating to deploy satellite facilities and encourage their usage within the country, towards encouraging deeper broadband, “we are also working day and night o ensure that our broadband services are secure for Nigerians and beyond.”
Other stakeholders, who spoke at the event, have emphasized that the fight against cybercrimes is currently beyond socio-political and economic exigencies, adding that as broadband access gets deeper, creating wider and unhindered access to high-speed internet, there is greater need to form strategic partnerships and collaborative alliances with stakeholders, agencies, organisations and jurisdictions with the objective of forming a common front to combat the menace of cybercrime in all its ramification and manifestations in the society.