By Omobayo Azeez
Increasing incidences of cybercrimes being perpetrated in Nigeria is being driven by the rising number of people adopting information and communication technology (ICT) tools on a daily basis.
Kashifu Inuwa Abdullahi, the director general of Nigerian Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), has attributed the two opposite scenarios to lockdown and restrictions caused by Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Abdullahi said the pandemic has influenced Nigerians to realize the key values of ICT, especially in closing distances and disseminating information.
He made this remark at a webinar for Nigerian IT & IT Security Community with the theme, “Back To Basics – COVID-19 & Critical Security Controls” which was organised by the NITDA, in partnership with Africa’s emerging cyber security VAD leader, Spire Solutions.
Although he said the situation was improving digital transformation, Abdullahi lame
“Cyber criminals used the fear and panic as well as unavailability of physical interactions to compromise security of devices and collect personal as well as financial credentials,” he noted.
Abdullahi stressed that to survive these antics of cybercriminals during the pandemic and post-pandemic period, there was the need to aggressively ramp up cyber security awareness, inculcate behavioural and cultural changes in online activities and acquire knowledge on how to stay safe on the space, especially for children.
He recalled how Google discovered approximately 149,000 phishing websites, in March alone, which later increased to 552,000, increasing by 350 per cent since January, saying that these phishing websites or emails direct users to malwares like viruses, worms, Trojan horses, ransomware and spyware.
“In Nigeria, we have some fake phishing websites in circulation misleading the public that the Federal Government has approved the disbursement of funds under a fake name called ‘Lockdown Funds’.
“We have investigated and took actions on several of such websites and WhatsApp messages. They claimed to be affiliates of the government requesting personal information like BVN in order to allot government palliatives,” he said.
Abdullahi added that “there were other claims to provide COVID-19 testing, and redirect individuals to sites where they can provide their personal information, promises of investment opportunities; an email offering to supply COVID-19 related equipment it supplies at lower rates.”
He said that NITDA, as a responsible agency, lived up to expectation by providing Nigerians with advisory notes on these incidences here the agency carries out periodic awareness programmes to enlighten Nigerians on the do’s and don’ts in the cyber space.
Abdullahi added that securing cyberspace remained a prerequisite to a robust digital economy championed by the present administration and urged Nigerians to be vigilant while doing business or other activities online.