Senate President, Bukola Saraki has said cyber-attacks had in 2016 reached unprecedented level, globally with no sign of a downward trend, adding that “our cyber borders are very porous, indeed”. He stated this at Nigeria’s first Legislative Stakeholders Conference on ICT and Cyber security in Abuja.
The Senate President who was represented by the Senate Minority Whip, Philip Aduda, said the cyber ecosystem has been manipulated to undermine democratic processes.
He stated that over 200,000 cyber-attacks were recorded earlier this year in a day, all over the World.
“It is indeed ironic that while internet penetration in Nigeria is tentative at best, hovering at just over the 90 million people mark, a percentage of 47.7 per cent; internet-facilitated crime seems to be growing”.
Saraki noted that major International Financial Institutions have had their systems crippled for up to 48 hours after being targeted by criminals using Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS), among other methods.
“In recent times, we have seen the virulent use to which criminals and other shadowy agents have put the cyber space”.
He also pointed out that a web-based Ponzi scheme had earlier succeeded in entrapping thousands of Nigerians, with promises of quick gains, investors were left counting the costs when the bubble burst, while those responsible moved on to new pastures.
“Kidnapping, already a scourge in the Nigerian physical space, is also becoming a problem in the virtual realm as ‘cyber-kidnapping’ of encrypted data poses a clear and present danger to our economic viability”.
The Senate President explained the importance of coming up with effective cyber-security management strategies based on existing legislative frameworks.
In May 2017, the United States pledged to support Nigeria in the fight against cybercrime and financial fraud, during a conference organised by the Federal Ministry of Justice and the National Information Technology Development Agency, with theme ‘US – Nigerian cooperation in combating cybercrime and financial fraud’.
Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami in a statement at the conference said the Ministry was ensuring cyber-crime perpetrators were prosecuted for obstructing National security.
“Our intention is to ensure that Nigeria is proactively implementing our Cyber Crime Act of 2015 and also to ensure that we are implementing the Advanced Fee Fraud Act of 2007.
“We want to ensure that we are looking at cross border crimes that can affect the National Security of Nigeria and we are taking proactive steps in that direction”.
A report on the 2016 Nigeria cyber-security outlook shows that cyber-attacks are on the increase in Nigeria, especially on multiple financial institutions and utility companies. Several organizations who suffered the attacks had to pay ransom for their data to be released.
Meanwhile, the Federal Government estimates the annual cost of cybercrime in Nigeria, to be about 0.08% of the Country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), which represents about N127 billion.
The report also shows there was an increase in competition among cyber security hackers. Regulatory bodies, made efforts to clamp down on cybercrime by setting up committees to implement and monitor the Cybercrime Act.
Things to note from the 2015 Cybercrime Act
Nigeria’s first attempt to criminalize Cybercrimes was in 1995. The draft legislation of the Electronic Crimes, Telecommunications and Postal Offences Decree of 1995 defined Cybercrime as “…engaging in computer fraud or does anything to fake payments, whether or not the payment is credited to the account of an operator or the account of the subscriber, is guilty of an offence”.
In July 2011, the Cybercrimes Act was introduced to the Nigerian Parliament by the then Executive arm of Government. It was passed into law in October 2014, but was however, signed into law in May 2015. This marked the beginning of an era which defined all cyber activities in Nigeria.
The objective of the 2015 Cybercrimes Act, are to provide an effective and unified legal, regulatory and institutional framework for the prohibition, prevention, detection, prosecution and punishment of cybercrimes in Nigeria.
It also seeks to ensure the protection of critical National information infrastructure.
The Act promotes cyber security and the protection of computer systems and networks, electronic communications, data and computer programs, intellectual property and privacy rights.