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Fighting CYBERCRIME in Nigeria
is no doubt that cybercrime is an image nightmare for Nigeria. The
recent decision of President Olusegun Obasanjo to setup a working
group, the Nigeria Cyber Crime Working Group (NCWG) (http://www.jidaw.com/itsolutions/security5.html)
is an indication that cybercrime, especially Internet 419 is a source of
concern and embarrassment. According to media reports in Nigeria, a bill is
presently being prepared to deal specifically with the menace of
Internet creates unlimited opportunities for commercial, social and
educational activities. But as we can see with cybercrime the net
introduces its own peculiar risks. What is the menace cybercrime poses
to society? The convenience associated with IT and the Internet is now
being exploited to serve criminal purposes. Cybercrime covers Internet
fraud not just online 419 - the use of computers and or the Internet
to commit crime. Computer-assisted crime includes e-mail scams, hacking,
distribution of hostile software (viruses and worms), denial of service
attacks, theft of data, extortion, fraud and impersonation.
crime uses the unique features of the Net - sending of e-mail in
seconds, speedy publication/ dissemination of information through the
web to anyone on the planet. Computer attacks can be generated by
criminals from anywhere in the world, and executed in other areas,
irrespective of geographic location. And often these criminal activities
can be faster, easier and more damaging with the use of the Internet.
the loss suffered by consumers and investors creates serous credibility
and image problems, many countries develop strategies for preventing,
detecting and containing the threats associated with cybercrime. While
it is acknowledged that greed is a major factor motivating most victims,
what about the image created for many who never respond?
the nation fighting cyber crime? It's interesting that there is quite
a lot of talk about fighting cyber crime. But what are the efforts? And
how effective are they? Since there is an awareness of the menace it
poses to society, what have been the sincere and meaningful efforts to
fight cybercrime? For one are the security agencies enlightened enough?
When you talk of efforts, you have to ask again: what have the security
agencies done? How much has been invested in terms of time, education,
personnel, etc? Are such efforts assessable or meaningful?
cybercrime requires not just IT knowledge but IT intelligence on the
part of the security agencies. In this clime, there is an IT security
divide - a serious shortage of skills to deal with the threats
associated with IT. Shouting and moaning about cybercrime isn't
enough. All the talk is meaningless unless the gap is closed. Security
agencies need to be equipped with the skills, the know-how and the
insight necessary to fight cybercrime effectively.
resources are needed to fight the menace, it is imperative to avoid the
misdirected approach of "throwing money" at the problem.
Invest based on priorities and strategies. Such policies must be based
on knowledge. Knowledge not just for the operatives, but also for those
that will commit resources. For example, do the decision makers have any
REAL, PRACTICAL appreciation of technology, not to talk of cybercrime?
What is their take on the basics of information security in today's
high-tech, business environment? The cybercriminals seem to have the
Essentially cybercrime is information and intelligence based activity. You cannot fight cybercrime with ignorance, strong directives or boastful talk.
To fight cybercrime, those involved have to spend time to learn how cybercrime operates and then devise strategies to fight the menace. And note that learning in IT is not one-off but lifelong.
How strong are the
security agencies in the fundamentals of IT? You cannot fight today's
crime with yesterday's technology. It will always be a losing battle
if security professionals are way behind the cyber criminals in
terms of tech knowledge. It's not just about computing skills, but IT
Security expertise (http://www.jidaw.com/certarticles/securitycerts.html)
cybercrime requires a holistic approach, not just addressing the cyber
cafés alone. What is the culture towards cybercrime? All stakeholders
should be involved. Security agencies should liaise with industry
stakeholders. There is a need to create a security-aware culture
involving the public, the ISPs, cybercafes, government, security
agencies and Internet users. There must be education about the problems,
risks and solutions. Existing and potential victims need to be
considered. Greed and unrealistic expectations are major problems. "If
an offer is too good to be true, don't believe it".
legislation needs to keep pace with e-crime, especially as it becomes
more prevalent and sophisticated. Apart from awareness and culture,
security measures (technical and non technical) will need to be put in
place and enforced, as part of the solutions. This might involve raising
penalties and increasing the seriousness of e-offences. The right
culture should create a high level of awareness amongst stakeholders.
Who are the main actors
involved? Cyber cafés are not the only source of cyber crime. Apart
from the Internet, what are the causes - both historical and current -
for the continued rise in cybercrime activity? Can cybercrime be
divorced from the widespread corruption in society? Or the harsh economic
climate, high unemployment? Disregard for the rule of law and lack of
transparency and accountability in governance certainly doesn't help
matters. There is no justification for crime but to the populace, who is
perceived as the criminal? Which is the bigger crime: corruption in high
places or cybercrime?
punishments and enlightenment, closing down cyber cafés, issuing
draconian directives may therefore not be meaningful without addressing
the causes. To fight crime you attack the causes of crime.
in terms of strategy, it is crucial to thoroughly address issues
relating to enforcement. Mishandling of enforcement can backfire.
Enforcement can only work if it avoids harassment, abuse of privacy and
extortion. Care must be taken not to throw out the baby with the bath
water. Don't create a situation where genuine users of the Internet are
frustrated out and unable to benefit from the Internet.
cannot afford to live in the dinosaur age. In today's world, computing
tools and the Internet are used to effectively promote social
development and business growth. Strategies must strike a balance
between security concerns and other developmental needs.
strategy is adopted it should not be the "know-it-all" or
"ram-it-down-their-throat" approach. Solutions should be practical,
cost-effective, acceptable and supported by all stakeholders. It is not
enough to issue directives and orders. For the right culture to grow all
stakeholders must be involved in creating and accepting solutions. To
fight crime, you need the cooperation of the community.
is no one measure that will cure the menace of cybercrime. But it is the
combination of measures together with the sincerity and rigour with
which they are implemented and administered that will serve to reduce
risks most effectively.
Jide Awe is the Founder of Jidaw.com
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