Computer Crime Research Center


The challenge of cyber crime

Date: August 27, 2008

The current revolution in ICT across the globe has brought a lot of blessings to humanity and the way people live and do business have taken them far away from the past. But with the blessings come a lot of worrisome challenges, and Nigeria, like some other countries of the world is not finding it easy with threats being posed to its image in the comity of nations.

One of such things to worry about is cyber crime. It is not new in the country. In fact, efforts have been made to tackle it at various levels. When Mallam Nuhu Ribadu was at the helms of affairs of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) about two or three years ago, online frauds were not finding it easy. The battle was even taken to every Internet café in the country against the “yahoo boys”. Most of them fled the country to neighbouring West African countries operating from there with the assistance of their Europe-based collaborators. The rats that scampered into hiding in the country did not find the temperature of Nigeria conducive enough to operate.

So, it was believed the country was getting it right. However, recent developments have shown that the cancer has eaten deeper and is not showing any sign of abating. This time around, the telecom arena is also being infected. Fraudulent web sites abound that people can subscribe to for multiple sms service. This, it has been discovered, gives the subscriber to do what ever he/she likes from another man’s GSM phone number without the knowledge of the owner of the number. Family ties can be jeopardized and businesses can be endangered.

The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) reacted to the development, saying the case was a security one that the security agencies should be able to handle. Mr Reuben Muoka, Senior PR Manager, NCC, said “we need to look at it first and see what the operators can do, then we can call a consultative forum that would involve them to see how the fraudulent activities could be blocked. It is totally an industry issue, but it has to be handled by the security agencies, it is not the job of the NCC, but we will perform our own duty within the confine of the law.

The Nigeria Computer Society (NCS) that is also feeling worried about the issue made the matter one of the cardinal points of discussion at the its just-concluded annual conference in Abeokuta. Writing in a communiqué issued after the conference, the body stated that, “given the crucial role Information Technology (IT) is playing and will continue to play in national socio-economic and technological development of Nigeria and the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals, it has become imperative that the Federal Government pay particular attention to the devastating impact of cyber criminality and terrorism in the e-commerce and electronic fund transfer landscape. This has to be done to prevent possible loss of confidence in the deployment of IT as a veritable tool for accelerated development of national economy.”

“This does Not augur well for the Nigerian internet experience. It hits at two cardinal points we hold dear. First, a blockage of Nigerian domain traffic means that those on the .ng domain would have their email or web traffic blocked, making the choice of a .ng domain space an unwanted option. Secondly even there is no domain blockage but a country IP block it would mean that those who have hosted their services in Nigeria, a keep driver for NIRA, would also have their traffic blocked”, hesaid. To check this threat to the viability to the .ng domain, he stated “we would embark on an multi-stakeholder multi-national collaboration to assure networks abroad of the safety of Nigerian traffic and the capacity of all local internet community and the law enforcement agencies to deal with any reported case of fraud. This would ensure that there are no blanket bans of Nigerian domains or IP addres”.
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