The disclosure by the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) that Nigeria loses about N127 billion annually to cybercrime is quite unsettling. The development is reportedly due to the county’s inability to properly guard her information systems. The disclosure was made by the Director, e-Government Regulatory Department of NITDA, Dr. Vincent Olatunji, during a stakeholder’s workshop on the review of guidelines for information system audit and software testing in Abuja.
There is no doubt that cybercrime is taking its toll on the nation’s economy with billions of naira lost annually. In 2016, the National Security Adviser (NSA), Major-Gen. Babagana Mongono (retd), disclosed that the nation lost about N127billion to software piracy, intellectual property theft and malware attacks between 2013 and 2014. Also, the recent reports by Demadiur Systems, a technology servicing company and Serianu Ltd, indicate that businesses in Nigeria lost about N234billion in 2017 to cybercrime alone.
According to the 2014 Annual report of the Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation (NDIC), between 2013 and 2014, fraud on e-payment platform of Nigeria’s banking sector increased by 183 per cent. Also, a 2014 report by UK-based Centre for Strategic and International Studies revealed that Nigeria loses about 0.08 per cent of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) or N127bilion yearly to cybercrime. Furthermore, global tracking of cyber attacks indicate that Nigeria is among countries that are vulnerable to software piracy and other cybercrimes. Undoubtedly, cybercrime puts any country’s economy and security at risk. Now that the global IT industry is expected to hit $5trillion later in the year, we urge the government to provide adequate security for the nation’s information systems.
Apart from the financial losses, the activities of cybercrime fraudsters have dented the image of the country. The nation is yet to overcome the bad image given to it by the ubiquitous “Yahoo Yahoo boys” who scam unsuspecting people, including foreigners. While the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) is waging a relentless war against the scourge, we think that their effort has not sufficiently deterred those behind it.
Therefore, we believe that this is the right time to fully enforce the Cybercrime Act 2015. The passage of the Cybercrime Bill into Law four years ago raised the hope that Nigeria was, indeed, ready to tackle the menace. However, the enforcement of certain aspects of the law has been allegedly selective, making it possible for most of the criminals to escape with their loot. Government is reported to be lax in implementing the Cybercrime Act. Many stakeholders believe that if the Cybercrime Act is strictly enforced, the international community would have seen the results and change their perception of the country.
Since cybercrime has become a global menace, it should be tackled frontally. The EFCC needs the cooperation of all stakeholders to deal with it. The Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA) should organise more public enlightenment programmes on the effects of cybercrime.
It is good that telecoms operators and cyber security experts have made case for an effective cybercrime law with severe sanctions for offenders. This has become expedient with the advent of the Internet Of Things (IOT) platform, where key industry players bring more operations online.
We urge the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to introduce new regulations that will curb the rising cases of cybercrimes. The upsurge in cyber fraud requires new rules and regulations that will address risks that make banks and financial services firms susceptible to money laundering, terrorist financial flows and other transactions. We say this considering the fact that interconnected, borderless networking and unregulated financial services sector make it easy for Internet hackers to conduct illegal activities online. We believe that the 31-member Cybercrime Committee set up by ONSA in 2016 would bring far-reaching recommendations that will help safeguard the nation’s cyberspace from internet fraudsters.
Therefore, any country that fails to adequately secure its cyberspace puts its institutions and economy at great risk. This makes it compelling for the government to collaborate with the legislature to enact laws that are capable of securing our cyberspace. The relevant government agencies should also educate the public on how to guard against cybercrime.