By Olabisi Olaleye [email protected] 08094000013, 08111813040
Experts in the Information and Technology industry have raised concerns that the growing Internet of Things (IoT) would soon snowball into further increase in cybercrime.
They have argued that the massive growth in global cyber threats in recent times was inadvertently aided by the significant rise in exploitation of IoT technologies.
According to Wikipedia, IoT is the network of physical devices, vehicles, home appliances, and other items embedded with electronics, software, sensors, actuators, and network connectivity, which enable the objects to connect and exchange data. Each item is uniquely identifiable through its embedded computing system but is able to inter-operate within the existing Internet infrastructure. Experts estimate that the IoT will consist of about 30 billion objects by 2020.
United States Consul-General in Nigeria, Mr. John Bray, who spoke during the 2017 Cybersecurity Awareness event in Lagos recently, predicted that the global Internet community would lose $6 trillion to cybercrime with IoT.
“This national public awareness campaign is a collaborative effort between government and industry that encourages individuals to protect their computers and our nation’s critical cyber infrastructure,” he said.
He disclosed that, around the globe, individuals, companies and governments have become victims of cyberattacks, which was what led President Barack Obama in 2009 to call for an increase in education and dialogue about cybersecurity in the Cyberspace Security Review.
“As part of this policy review, the Department of Homeland Security created an ongoing cybersecurity awareness campaign: Stop.Think.Connect. This is a national public awareness campaign designed to raise awareness of cybersecurity and a call for vigilance about practicing safe online habits.
Bray explained further that, without good cybersecurity in place, devices can be hacked and used in a malicious manner to cause serious harm. He insisted that cyber awareness is everyone’s responsibility, adding that experts envisage an estimate that nearly half of the entire G-20 economy would be lost to cybercriminals.
“People are now spending more time online at home and at work than ever before. Our growing dependence on technology, coupled with the increasing threat of cyberattacks and risks to our privacy demands greater security in our online world,” Bray said.
Meanwhile, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has pledged its commitment in curbing cybercriminals who prowl the industry with threat.
This promise was made during the second workshop of the Industry Work Group (IWG) on electronic banking fraud at the Digital Bridge Institute, Kano.
The IWG, which was constituted early in the year, has as members stakeholders from the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), civil society organisations, as well as value added service providers.
On assumption of office, the executive vice chairman of the NCC, Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta, reeled out his eight-point agenda for the industry, of which facilitating strategic collaboration and partnership with stakeholders to foster ICT for sustainable economic development and social advancement became a priority for the commission.
NCC, executive commissioner, technical services, Mr. Ubale Maska, in his opening remarks to participants at the workshop, said the staggering level of fraud in the industry led to the constitution of the IWG, which is saddled with the responsibility of proffering solutions to the rising rate of electronic fraud in the country.
During his presentation, titled “Electronic Banking Fraud in Nigeria – Challenges and Way Forward,” Mr. Bako Wakil, a deputy director at the NCC, said it became necessary to take the bull by the horns, following a visit by the deputy governor of the CBN to the management of the NCC to discuss the prevalence of banking fraud using telecommunications infrastructure. This was necessitated after petitions by Nigerian banks to the apex bank began to raise red flags at the sophisticated methods employed by cyber criminals via telecoms infrastructure in defrauding customers.
Wakil said the terms of reference for the committee was to look at the technicality and security architecture of mobile banking; awareness issues in mobile banking; SIM card replacement processes, SIM card cloning as well as unsolicited text messages.
The sub-committee acknowledged that banking fraud was a growing national problem that fleeces Nigerians of their earnings daily, and came up with 21 recommendations categorised into short-term, mid-term and long-term, with the aim of checking the growing threat to Nigerians. The IWG is expected to meet quarterly to review its progress and address new challenges facing the sector.
The workshop was participatory and members of the public seized the opportunity to contribute to discussions by welcoming the strategic collaboration between the NCC and the CBN in checking the excesses of cybercriminals. The NCC was advised to ramp up its sensitisation exercise around the country by continuously engaging and enlightening the public on developments in the telecoms industry.
Malam Adamu Amshi, Kano Zonal Coordinator, NCC, told the gathering that the enforcement team of the commission, along with security agents, had recently arrested telecoms vendors selling pre-registered SIM cards and handed them over to the authorities for prosecution in order to protect telecoms consumers from unfair practices by unscrupulous elements in the society.