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NCC Joins Forces to Combat Rising Cyber Frauds in West Africa

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Rising Cyber Fraud

By Adedapo Adesanya

The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) and other telecoms regulators under the auspices of West African Telecoms Regulators Assembly (WATRA) are set to develop technical and regulatory modalities to combat the rising wave of cyber-related frauds in the African sub-region.

This is as the regulators seek to achieve the standardisation of roaming tariffs among member-states of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).

This followed a two-day meeting organised by WATRA in collaboration with the bloc which was attended by representatives of telecoms regulators from countries across West Africa.

According to a statement signed by NCC’s  Director Public Affairs, Mr Ikechukwu Adinde, the forum provided a platform for key participants and stakeholders to deliberate on building a unified market in telecommunications services in West Africa, to combat roaming and cyber-related frauds, and achieve the standardisation of roaming tariffs among ECOWAS member-states.

Addressing stakeholders at the meeting, Executive Vice Chairman of NCC, Mr Umar Garba Danbatta, who is also the Chairman of WATRA, underscored the centrality of the meeting by emphasising that, as businesses move online, the fraudsters are also going digital.

Mr Danbatta, who was represented by NCC’s Director, Technical Standards and Network Integrity, Mr Bako Wakil, said, based on this fact and in order to give West African citizens and businesses the confidence to fully take advantage of the enormous benefits of Information and Communications Technology (ICT), there was a need for regulators to tame and outpace the fraudsters.

“About 75 per cent of trade within ECOWAS is informal, and thus poorly recorded. Therefore, digitising this trade through employing many forms of electronic payments is a significant step towards formalising, governing and boosting intra-ECOWAS trade activities.

“Our ambitions are to formalise informal trade, including agricultural commodities as well as boosting intra-regional trade and this requires us to improve collaboration on combating electronic fraud,” Mr Danbatta said.

The NCC EVC informed the delegates to the forum that electronic fraud is not just an African or a West African issue but a global phenomenon.

He cited studies that revealed 54 per cent of consumers in the European Union said they are most likely to come across misleading/deceptive or fraudulent advertisements or offers on the Internet.

On the regional roaming service, the WATRA Chairman said the Assembly has the vision of a Digital ECOWAS where improved sub-regional roaming regulation can help to facilitate economic integration in the region.

“Our citizens, traders and companies will trade better when they can use their telephones to call contacts in other ECOWAS countries and when they can use their data subscriptions at no extra cost while travelling or doing business within the region.

“So, reducing and eventually eliminating the cost of roaming will also be a very significant contribution towards boosting trade within the region,” Mr Danbatta added.

The EVC expressed satisfaction at the level of collaboration among national regulatory authorities in the sub-region on the one hand; and between WATRA and ECOWAS, to achieve a common goal, on the other hand, describing such synergy as a great indicator of progress and internalisation of best global practices.

“I am very pleased to see the excellent collaboration and the sharing of workload between the telecommunications body and personnel within ECOWAS and WATRA. Their roles have become complementary and mutually reinforcing-policies legislative frameworks that have been designed at the ECOWAS level, while WATRA does the follow-up work of information-sharing, dialogue and learning dispersal amongst regulatory authorities. It is indeed becoming a well-articulated symphony,” he added.

On his part, the Executive Secretary of WATRA, Mr Aliyu Aboki, emphasised the value of a trusted digital economy to any nation. He cited a study by Accenture, which concludes that “a trusted digital economy would stimulate 2.8 per cent additional growth for major firms, with the new transactions generated totalling $5.2 trillion of value creation in the economy,” hence, the establishment and operationalisation of national and regional anti-fraud committee.

Mr Aboki commended ECOWAS for “allowing this regional sharing of the enormous task of building Digital ECOWAS to work very well through WATRA, which is a regional manifestation of this collaborative structure”.

The WATRA Chief restated that WATRA, as a mechanism for regional regulatory collaboration, will work in unison and ensure its vision is speedily executed by making sure that no nation in the region is left behind.

Also speaking at the forum, the Acting Director, Digital Economy and Post, ECOWAS, Mr Raphael Koffi, noted that while e-fraud in the provision of communication services has always been an issue being collectively tackled, variance in termination rates agreed in commercial roaming agreements has also constituted an obstacle to harmonization of roaming tariffs which, he said, collaboration between WATRA and ECOWAS is set to achieve.

Participants at the event were updated on the status of the implementation of the Removal of Surcharges on International Traffic (SIIT) on ECOWAS countries; establishment of a uniform tariff cap for roaming call termination in the ECOWAS region, among others.

Adedapo Adesanya is a journalist, polymath, and connoisseur of everything art. When he is not writing, he has his nose buried in one of the many books or articles he has bookmarked or simply listening to good music with a bottle of beer or wine. He supports the greatest club in the world, Manchester United F.C.

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Nigeria Grows Active Internet Subscribers by 0.62% in Q1 2022

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Corporate Internet Banking

By Adedapo Adesanya

The number of active internet subscribers in Nigeria increased by 0.62 per cent year-on-year in the first quarter of 2022 to 145.9 million from the 145.0 million achieved in the same period of last year.

In the Telecoms Data: Active Voice and Internet per State, Porting and Tariff Information report for Q1 2022 released by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), the slow growth was attributed to the inability of Nigerians to buy and register new SIM cards following directives from the federal government to halt the sale of new cards over security measures as well as the directive that all SIM cards must be linked to a National Identification Number (NIN).

The report showed that Lagos State stood top for active internet subscriptions with a total of 17,839,569 subscribers in the period under review, closely followed by Ogun State with 8,538,812 and Kano State with 8,364,587.

“On the other hand, Bayelsa had the least with 1,043,059, followed by Ebonyi and Ekiti with 1,230,081 and 1,373,888 respectively.”

The report showed that MTN, which has the largest market share in the country’s telecommunication sector, had the highest number of subscriptions in the period under review, followed by Glo and Airtel in second and third places respectively.

It was also confirmed that a total of 199,558,540 active voice subscribers were recorded in Q1 of 2022, a 3.7 per cent rise compared to 192,413,613 that it recorded in Q1 of 2021.

On a quarter-on-quarter basis, the report showed growth stood at 2.1 per cent.

On state analysis, the report showed that Lagos also had the highest number of active voice subscribers in Q1 of 2022 with 24,226,878, followed by Kano with 11,666,630 and Ogun with 11,537,006.

The report showed that Bayelsa state had the least with 1,445,123, followed by Ekiti state with 1,786,160 subscribers.

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Nigeria’s Battle Against Cybercrime: Are You Safe?

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Cybercrime

Cybercrime is nothing new in Nigeria. Part of youth culture for decades, criminal enterprises have spread across the country.

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…

A brief history of cybercrime in Nigeria

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.

Biggest threats to Nigeria’s cybersecurity

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.

Social engineering tactics

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.

Phishing websites

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.

Insider collaboration

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.

Cybersecurity vulnerabilities of third parties

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.

Deepfake technology

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.

How Nigeria is fighting back

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.

Nigeria introduces the National Cybersecurity Policy and Strategy (NCPS)

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.

Conclusion

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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Technology

5G Subscriptions to Reach 4.4 billion in 2027—Ericsson

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5G subscriptions

By Aduragbemi Omiyale

The latest edition of the Ericsson Mobility Report has predicted that 5G subscriptions will hit one billion this year and 4.4 billion in 2025, with North America expected to lead in the next five years with 9 of every 10 subscriptions in the region to be 5G by 2027.

The report, which is the 22nd of Ericsson’s network traffic insights and forecasts, also revealed that global mobile network data traffic doubled in the past two years, driven by increased smartphone and mobile broadband usage, as well as the digitalization of society and industries.

The recent statistics and forecasts highlight the strong demand for data connectivity and digital services have and are expected to have, despite the global COVID-19 pandemic and geopolitical uncertainties. Several hundred million people are becoming new mobile broadband subscribers every year.

As for the 5G subscriptions, it was stated that by 2027, the fifth-generation network will account for 82 per cent of subscriptions in Western Europe; 80 per cent in the Gulf Cooperation Council region; and 74 per cent in North-East Asia.

In India, where 5G deployments have yet to begin, 5G is expected to account for nearly 40 per cent of all subscriptions by 2027. In global terms, 5G is forecast to account for almost half of all subscriptions by 2027, topping 4.4 billion subscriptions.

According to the survey, 5G is scaling faster than all previous mobile technology generations as about a quarter of the world’s population currently has access to 5G coverage.

Some 70 million 5G subscriptions were added during the first quarter of 2022 alone and by 2027, about three-quarters of the world’s population will be able to access 5G.

“The latest Ericsson Mobility Report confirms 5G as the fastest growing mobile technology generation ever, and Ericsson is playing a key role in making it happen.

“We work every day with our customers and ecosystem partners around the world to ensure that millions more people, enterprises, industries, and societies enjoy the benefits of 5G connectivity as soon as possible,” the Executive Vice President and Head of Networks at Ericsson, Fredrik Jejdling, said.

As for the Executive Editor of Ericsson Mobility Report, Peter Jonsson, “The deployment of 5G standalone (SA) networks is increasing in many regions as communications service providers (CSPs) gear up for innovation to address the business opportunities beyond enhanced mobile broadband.

“A solid digital network infrastructure underpins enterprises’ digital transformation plans, and their new capabilities can be turned into new customer services.”

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