Nigeria losses $649m to cyber-crimes – Senate 

Edwin Akwueh, Abuja

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The Nigerian senate says not less than $649 million or N250 billion was lost to cyber-crimes by Nigeria in the year 2017 alone.

Senate therefore urged the federal government to increase budgetary allocation to the Information and Communications Technology, ICT for the enhancement of the nation’s digital economy and cyber security.

It also mandated its Committee on ICT and Cyber-crime to re-establish engagement with stakeholders in order to ensure a comprehensive and broad-based approach to addressing Nigeria’s digital technology and cyber security crises.

Senate further directed the committee to embark on strategic engagements with ministries, departments and agencies, MDAs with a view to ascertaining their ICT shortfalls, cyber security constraints, data management challenges and possible remediation measures.

These resolutions followed a motion titled: “The growth of digital technology and the challenge of cyber-crime: Urgent need to safeguard the future of Nigeria” sponsored by Senator Oseni Yakubu on Wednesday.

Senator Yakubu in his lead debate, called on his colleagues to be worried that the gains of digital technology are being dampened by rapid evolution of cyber security threats and increased attacks in both sophistication and severity.

According to him, reports indicate that there is currently a dramatic rise in cyber-crime such as the “ransomware epidemic, the refocusing of malware from personal computers (PCS) and laptops to smartphones and mobile devices, the deployment of billions of under-protected Internet of Things (IoT) devices, the legion of hackers-for-hire.”

He said that there are increasingly sophisticated attacks on governments, businesses, educational establishments and defence infrastructure. The lawmaker added that criminal cyber-related activities are already costing the world huge losses in trillions of dollars.

“Global ransomware damage alone has been predicted to cost the world over 11 billion dollars in 2019 and 20 billion dollars in 2021. 

“It is also predicted that a business will fall every 14 seconds in 2019 and 11 seconds in 2021, and that overall cyber-crime is predicted to cost the world over 6 trillion dollars annually from 2021,” he said.

He lamented further  that Nigeria is already plagued with the destructive cyber-crises, saying “reports indicate that in 2017 alone, the country lost about 649 million dollars (i.e. over N250 billion) to cyber-crime activities.” 

According to him, “The 2018 Report of the Nigeria Deposit Insurance Cooperation (NDIC) indicates that there were 37,817 reported fraud cases within the year, out of which 59.2% were internet and technology based, costing businesses in Nigeria several billions of naira.

“It is also indicated that over 81% of cyber security incidents in the country are either unreported or unresolved, leaving room for the proliferation and escalation of illicit cyber activities.”

“In fact, federal allocation to the ICT sector of the economy can only be considered as lip service, compared to the enormity of challenges therein. Even in Africa, Nigeria is at the bottom of cyber security manpower ratio to total population. 

“Our institutions of learning do not seem to understand the world we live in today. Indeed, our cyber security consciousness and awareness rating does not come before that of any other country in the world,” Yakubu stressed.