Authorities at the Nigerians Communication Commission (NCC), Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Nigeria Police, ministry of communication and others opened talks last week on how to secure Nigeria’s cyberspace.
At the conference, held in Abuja, minister of communication and digital economy, Isaiah Pantami, said the high rate of cybercrime and its consequences on the Digital Economy informed the need to prioritise cybersecurity.
He was speaking at an annual cybersecurity conference organised by NCC, themed: ‘Strengthening the Security and Resilience of the nation’s communications infrastructure.’
“No digital economy can be implemented without securing the cyberspace of that country,” Pantami noted and recalled that in November 2019, President Buhari convened and launched national digital economy policy and strategy, which according to him, cannot be implemented without efforts at securing the cyberspace.
He also pointed to the need to secure confidence to convince Nigeria, which had informed the government’s commitment to ensuring cybersecurity.
The minister, while lamenting the prevalence of cybercrime and its economic impact, called for a collaborative effort and need to create awareness of online risks.
Narrating the enormity of the problem, he said, “Cybercrime is the fastest growing crime in the country. In America, in 2018 alone cybercrime industry generated a minimum of $1.5 trillion while social media associated crime generated a minimum of $3.25 billion. Bitcoin crime alone generated $76 billion.
“Today, we have a digital economy so cybercrime has what we call cyber Economist.
“When you look at the statistics of countries with the highest rate of cybercrime, the participation of government in the digital economy is getting lower by the day, while the countries that their cybersecurity is relatively string, you will find out people are more comfortable to partake in the digital economy.”
He raised the concerns that while a crime was at the speed of light, cybersecurity was at the speed of law, but “we must join our hands together to ensure that we work collaboratively to ensure our cyberspace is secured relatively.”
Umar Garba Danbatta, executive chairman of NCC, who also spoke at the event, assured commitment to reducing cybercrime via privacy and security of information.
“The strategy we hope to come out of this conference is how we can be able to secure Telecom Infrastructure to the extent that this protection will inspire confidence in subscribers of telecommunication services in the country to continue subscribing to those services with confidence that data is secured and safety of that data is also assured,” he stated.
Danbatta, speaking about a war against cybercrime, said regulatory measures were being put in place.
“The war against cybercrime is one that is continuous, as the level of internet penetration is increasing, the level of cybercrime increases. This is a well-known fact, but the regulator is saying we are doing everything possible regulatory wise including putting measures in place that are technical in nature.”
He announced plans to unveil additional regulatory instrument through a legal backing.
Meanwhile, the deputy commissioner of Police who heads cybercrime unit, Interpol National Central Bureau Abuja, Uche Ifeanyi Henry, debunked poverty to be the cause of cyber theft in Nigeria, rather blaming the country’s poor cybersecurity.
“They know that we do not have harmonised global professionals to take care of it. You can be here and commit crimes in America or London and transfer the money to any part of the world.
“They know about the losses and our inadequacies,” he stressed.
However, he called on the government to review laws regarding the cyber industry.
“The government is doing a lot, but there is a need for us to review the law, there is a need for capacity building, funding, and collaboration. There is also a need for government agencies to work together to secure our space,” Henry further said.
By Gift Wada Abuja