Recently, the Information Security Society of Africa-Nigeria (ISSAN) held a-day cybersecurity roundtable 2023 with the theme: “Re-thinking corporate governance rules of money transfer.” The president of the non-profit association, Dr. David Isiavwe in chat with Kayode Tokede disclosed that there is $7 billion available to be stolen through cybercrime, stressing that the rising trend of cybercrimes can only be tackled through collaboration.
Cybercrime has been on the increase in recent years. What is ISSAN in collaboration with CBN doing to guide commercial banks and customers against cybercrime in the country?
Cybercrime is increasing globally, not just in Nigeria, as it is everywhere. There are different types of attacks. If you look across the threat landscape, we see different types of attacks.
The common one is called a social engineering attack, where the fraudsters call people and ask them all kinds of questions, pretending to be calling from the banks or the telcos, central bank, and people divulge this sensitive information.
Some cases, these fraudsters tell customers that they will receive a code because they’re trying to upgrade their systems, telephones or bank accounts, cards, among others. There are a number of reasons we are witnessing increasing social engineering attacks in the banking sector.
The first reason is called the greed factor.
People are greedy generally, not just in Nigeria or in Africa but across the world. A lot of people do not want to work to earn money, but they want to spend and want to live a big. I’m sure you’ve heard about the celebrated cases of cyber thieves across the world.
Some Nigerians who are outside in US and UK, are doing all kinds of things. Greed is one of the main causes of cybercrime increase across the world. A lot of people out there want to spend money and spend uncontrollably. The only way you can do that is through crime.
Now, in the past, connectivity was not so much available. Even in Nigeria, there was a time when we had less than 1000 mobile telephone lines in the country. But now, everybody, the common man on the streets, has telephones, and they have access to the Internet.
All you need is a maximum of $100 and with that, you can get a telephone, a SIM card, and you have access to the Internet.
Mind you, the amount of money that is available to be stolen is increasing as we continue to have increasing phone penetration in the country.
Currently, there is about $7 trillion amount to be stolen and in two years, it is going to rise up to a minimum of $10.5 trillion, according what research has shown. Most people know that there’s so much money to be made since they have access to the internet.
In addition to that, for instance, the legal conditions that we have today in Nigeria and across the world need to be looked at in order to prevent people from going into crime. The reason is that people engage in bad behaviour online because there is no court to jail them.
Sometimes they steal millions of naira. When they are taken to court, they get penalized and the judgment for a man who has stolen N60 million gets a penalty of N1.5million.
So, that also stimulates and motivates people to do bad things. If you add all of that together, and then you look at the conditions of living of life in Africa, you will understand that poverty also contribute to cybercrime in Africa. The unemployment rate is quite high and a lot of people now have the capacity to access the internet, another contributing factor to cybercrime.
They have the equipment, just a telephone that has access to the internet, and they can make a lot of money, stealing other people’s money.
And then you also have love scams that are happening across the world. That is a big problem. You find out that almost every month, we continue to find out that somebody is convicted of a crime involving love crimes.
They fake the lives of celebrities, pose as them on the internet and people fall into their trap. They post pictures online and they get into relationships with vulnerable people, especially old ladies and then they begin to extort money from them.
So, in a nutshell, cybercrime is growing because of the predisposing factors that facilitate the root of it. There is greed, unemployment, and poverty, and there is easy access to the equipment required to commit the crime.
At ISSAN, we act as an advocacy team that steps up and be at the vanguard of creating awareness of the cyber threat in the financial sector, among other sectors.
As to the do’s and don’ts in cyberspace, we informed stakeholders on what should people know, what should people do, and what they should not do.
We engage across the entire stakeholders on a monthly basis to focus on building capacity and human capital development, and we hold our training for people free of charge.
We educate stakeholders on how we can minimize fraud, both in Nigeria and across Africa. Central Bank has a forum called the Nigerian Electronic Fraud Forum and it is basically devoted to fighting electronic fraud, and we are an active member.
So, we take steps to ensure that we collaborate with key parties across the industry. In fact, at ISSAN, we believe that one very good fight against cybercrime is through collaboration and much more collaboration.
We bring people together, and then we begin to educate them and inform them of what is going on in cyberspace. From there, everyone will go back with the information and knowledge to protect their own organization.
ISSAN also played a key role in ensuring that countries in Africa, come together and look at this area this problem, and the problem is not going to go away anytime soon.
But we can take steps to minimize the impact so that people do not fall prey. So, we build capacity, and knowledge and then we encourage, the entire industry frequently to ensure that whatever is happening, information is disseminated across the board.
Everybody takes action to protect themselves. So our philosophy is to ensure that every time there is an attack, that attack will be the last of that type. Because what fraudsters do is that they repeat the same tactics.
So, they go to one entity, they hit that entity. They take a lot of money, but since money is very easily made, you just spend it easily.
What are the major takeaways from this conference?
The key takeaway is that very soon, we are working on policy pronouncements that will help to improve the security of digital transactions in Nigeria.
The gaps are being discussed, we have identified different areas, especially the tier one accounts, those wallet accounts that no have limits transfer or any form of documentation.
The account is just the same as a telephone number and it is very risky. A lot of money goes in there. People lose their money. We are going to work to see all these stop and that is the major objective we seek to achieve from this conference.