Rising Cybersecurity Concerns in Nigeria Prompt Calls for Innovative Solutions

The escalating threat of cyberattacks in Nigeria and globally has prompted increased vigilance and calls for innovative solutions to combat the rising menace. Cybersecurity incidents, described as malicious and intentional attempts to breach information systems, are becoming more prevalent, particularly targeting businesses and organizations.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) revealed that cyber fraud accounted for 80 percent of the 978 convictions it secured as of September 2021. A report from the Nigeria Inter Bank Settlement System (NIBSS) indicated that fraudsters made 46,126 attempts to breach data systems within nine months of 2020, with a concerning success rate of 91 percent.

A survey titled ‘The State of Ransomware 2022’ unveiled that 71 percent of Nigerian businesses experienced ransomware attacks in 2021, with remediation costs reaching $3.43 million for 44 percent of affected businesses.

Africa, including Nigeria, has witnessed substantial financial losses due to cybercrimes. In 2017, the continent lost $3.5 billion, with Nigeria accounting for $645 million. In subsequent years, Nigeria reportedly lost $800 million (N288 billion) collectively to cyberattacks. A 2019 report further disclosed an average annual loss of N127 billion ($328,842,878 million) to cybercrimes in Nigeria.

Parallel to the cybersecurity challenges is the prevalence of financial crimes, encompassing a wide range of offenses such as insider abuse, money laundering, terrorism financing, and fraud. Dr. Aminu Maida, the Executive Vice Chairman of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), emphasized the need for innovative solutions, including the deployment of technologies like blockchain, artificial intelligence, machine learning, and data analytics, to combat financial crimes effectively.

The NCC has taken strides to address these challenges, establishing the Computer Security Incident Response Team (CSIRT) to handle security incidents affecting organizations and individuals. Additionally, biometric authentication has been incorporated in telecom services and financial transactions, and digital forensics capabilities have been enabled.

Dr. Maida stressed the significance of public education on internet safety and emphasized the necessity for collaboration and international cooperation to effectively tackle financial crimes. Continued investment in ICT solutions, a multidisciplinary strategy, and a collaborative approach involving technology specialists, legal professionals, and legislators are deemed critical in keeping pace with emerging criminal methods. The NCC’s efforts, including advisories and warnings, demonstrate a proactive stance in addressing the evolving landscape of cybersecurity threats.

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