By Naomi Sharang
The President of the Senate, Dr Bukola Saraki, says Nigeria has lost about N127 billion to cyber-crime.
He made this known at Nigeria’s first Legislative Stakeholders Conference on ICT and Cyber security on Monday in Abuja.
Saraki, who was represented by Senate Minority Whip Sen. Philip Aduda Saraki did not, however, specify the period within which the nation lost such an amount to cyber-crime.
He said the loss was indicative of the hole created in the economy by cyber-crime amounting to 0.08 per cent of the Gross Domestic product (GDP.
“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.
“Our cyber borders are very porous, indeed,” Saraki said.
He said efforts to revive the economy must necessarily include counter-measures to minimise the losses and shore up the country’s cyber security architecture to better repel attacks.
Saraki further said that cyber-attacks had in 2016 reached unprecedented level, globally with no sign of a downward trend.
“In recent times, we have seen the virulent use to which criminals and other shadowy agents have put the cyber space.
“The cyber ecosystem has been weaponised and manipulated to devastating effect to undermine democratic processes, influence voting in elections and whip up tension and divisions between societal groups.
“Over 200,000 cyber-attacks were recorded in one single day earlier this year all over the world.
“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.”
He said such attacks threatened economic activities, adding that personal data of millions of people were compromised by cyber criminals, who demanded the payment of ransom before hijacked data could be released.
“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 described cybercrime as an ever-mutating monster, constantly growing new tentacles and taking on new formations.
“Not so long ago, one web-based Ponzi scheme 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. There was no accountability anywhere.”
He said that it was in light of all these challenges that the Senate sounded the alarm with a motion in May and resolved to, amongst other things, convene a national conference.
“It is essential that we come up with effective cyber-security management strategies based on existing legislative frameworks, while building on the work already being done by bodies like the Cybercrime Advisory Council.
He noted that “The ‘Stop. Think. Connect’ campaign initiative of the United States Mission was aimed at reducing cybercrime in Nigeria.
According to him, the effort also points to the need to share ideas and collaborate with international partners to reduce the impact of the borderless crimes of cyber-space.
The Chairman, Senate Committee on ICT and Cybercrime, Sen. AbdulFatai Buhari, said the advancement in Information and Communication Technology had accelerated the growth and penetration of mobile telephony and its associated multimedia services.
“It has led to increasing access to the internet and broadband services providing opportunities for finding detailed answers to millions of questions every day.
Buhari said it was estimated that cybercrime would cost businesses in the world over $2 trillion by 2019.
In his address, the Minister of Communication, Adebayo Shittu, said globally, ICT had become a veritable tool for advancing growth and economic diversification.
He said that a World Bank study carried out in 2014 showed that every 10 per cent in ICT investment generated a corresponding 1.38 per cent increase in GDP.”
Represented by the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry, Abdulaziz Abdullahi, the minister said government had put in place new ICT strategic road map to improve the communication sector.