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Nigeria’s Battle Against Cybercrime: Are You Safe?

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In 2020, Nigeria ranked 16th highest in the world for international cybercrimes, by the FBI. However, Nigeria ranked 47th on the Global Cybersecurity Index, showing a vast disparity between the volume of cybercrime, and the effectiveness of Nigeria’s cybersecurity.

To understand this divide, it’s important to understand where cybercrime originated in the country.

Let’s investigate…

The roots of cybercrime culture in Nigeria date as far back as the 1980s. In those early days, Nigerian youth mainly perpetrated cybercrime through email scams.

Known colloquially as the “yahoo yahoo” business, “yahoo boys” use social engineering tactics to con their victims into sending them money. The fraudsters often use emotional pressure points or promises of high returns.

The Nigerian government took a blow in 2020 when hacker collective Anonymous declared cyberwar against them. They hacked the database of the Central Bank of Nigeria and police websites on behalf of the #ENDSARS movement.

The landscape of global cyber threats shifts regularly. However, recent years have shown a rise in the popularity of certain types of cybercrime in Nigeria.

Arguably the oldest cybercrime in Nigeria, social engineering continues to be a favourite of Nigerian cybercriminals. These tactics often include heartfelt backstories, pleas for help, and the promise of love, or return on investment — all via email.

These tactics play on victims’ emotions and vulnerabilities. Those who’ve been successful with these scams live frivolous lifestyles. “Yahoo boys” with fancy cars and clothes have also become role models for young people desiring the same lifestyle.

Chances are you’ve ended up on a site like this before. Sometimes they pose as legitimate sites but are almost always just an attempt to collect data, or install viruses. Phishing sites are hugely popular in Nigeria as it goes hand in hand with email scams.

You only need to click on a dangerous link before a fraudster can view your data. This is where using a VPN for PC is essential. Virtual Private Networks (VPN) hide your browsing and location data from malicious phishing websites.

A significant area of concern for Nigerian businesses is insider collaboration. This occurs between criminals and employees. Fraudsters have often sent out open requests for anyone willing to cause damage to their employer for payment.

This is quite hard to track too, as hackers use valid credentials to access secure networks. Keeping logs of activities within the network can help to find leaks. This can also help to spot malicious activity in the future.

One of the biggest concerns for Nigerian businesses is the security of third parties. Even if your business is a fortress, a poorly protected third-party can bring the castle tumbling down.

This is especially troubling to Nigerian businesses operating globally. More third parties mean more vulnerabilities. Only work with trusted clients and expand the scope of your cybersecurity to those you work with.

A hot-button issue in Nigeria at the moment, deepfake fraud is more common than ever. Deepfake technology is the life-like reanimation of an individual’s face, meaning you can make anyone say anything.

Unfortunately, deep-fake is only getting better. In 2018, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari was featured in a deepfake video. The video became so viral that the President was prompted to make a statement dismissing the video as a fake.

Policing against cybercrime in Nigeria has been inadequate for decades. Only recently has the government declared significant steps in its plan to fight the rising issue of cybercrime.

In 2021, Nigeria implemented the NCPS, which indicated cybercrime as a leading threat to Nigeria and its economy. The NCPS represents an attempt to safeguard Nigeria’s digital economy, by strengthening the country’s legal and regulatory framework.

Also ongoing is the development of the National Cybersecurity Coordination Centre (NCCC). The NCCC would ensure clear communication and a well-developed response to cybercrime across Nigeria.

Efforts like these are projected to boost cyber protections and cybersecurity awareness. While work is still ongoing, the future of cybersecurity in Nigeria looks bright.

Although it has been a mainstay for years, cybercrime is now starting to be taken seriously in Nigeria.

Being uncontrolled for so long, cybercrime has been able to grow steadily.

By embracing modern cybersecurity practices, Nigeria might finally rid itself of its unwanted cybercriminal image.

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