Experts attribute cybercrimes in Nigeria to social engineering

April 16, 2021
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Information technology experts have attributed 56 per cent of cyber crimes in the country to social engineering and, therefore, urged Nigerians to be cybersmart by not divulging confidential information.

Social engineering is psychological manipulation of people into performing actions or divulging confidential information.

They made the assertions at a webinar hosted by First Bank of Nigeria Ltd. to sensitise individuals and businesses on staying protected in the information age in Lagos on Friday.

They said social engineering attacks on banks’ customers contributed to 56 per cent of Nigeria Inter-Bank Settlement System fraud reported in 2020.

The theme of the virtual event was “Staying Protected Amidst the Pandemic Chaos.”

Speaking at the event, Mr Tope Aladenusi, Chief Strategy Officer & Cyber Risk Services Leader, Deloitte West Africa, said Nigeria lost N5.5 trillion to fraud, cybercrimes in 10 years.

Aladenusi said losses from cybercrimes seemed to be more than those of drug trafficking.

He said as of December 2020, global losses from cybercrimes were over 1trillion dollars.

Aladenusi attributed the rise in cyber crimes to insufficient skilled resources, deficiency in awareness, rapidly changing technology landscape and weakness in cybersecurity controls.

Also speaking, FirstBank Chief Information Security Officer, Mr Harrison Nnaji, said the COVID-19 pandemic had increased digital access.

“Since the beginning of the pandemic, the internet has remained a force, allowing people to stay connected during periods of extended isolation while performing a lot of transactions online.

“People have increasingly relied on the internet to work, transact and stay entertained.

“But, with this increased use of internet services, the online threats that vulnerable people are exposed to have also increased,” Nnaji said.

According to him, online threat actors continue to take advantage of the hysteria created by the pandemic, with a greater focus on exploiting the digital service offerings and consumers fallibility.

“As an increasing number of customers have been obligated to use online transaction platforms, consumers are presently faced with several associated cyber risks,” he added.

Nnaji listed cyber crimes instruments as use of unsecure networks for connection, fishing attacks, call centre scam, SIM hijack, and business e-mail compromise, among others.

He explained that the escalated risks had led to general distrust and apathy, loss of resources, loss of interest in e-payments and financial inclusion.

Nnaji added that the escalated risks had increased stress on firms trying to rationalise dwindling funds to fight cyberattacks.

He, however, assured customers that the bank had enhanced measures to combat breaches.

Nnaji said FirstBank had invested in human capital, security tools and governance to combat any attempt by the cybercriminals to breach its security posture.

“We have ensured that all activities and procedures within the bank adhered to due process at all times, prompt software updates and deployment of the right security applications,” Nnaji said.

He urged customers to back up their data, be cautions of free Wi-Fi, choose unique passwords, be smart with social media and to check bank statements regularly to avoid hackers.

Ms Confidence Staveley, Cyber Security Evangelist/ Founder, Cybersafe Foundation, said it was easier to hack humans than machines.

Staveley said human beings easily became victims of hackers due to desire, fear, greed, urgency, panic, exxitment, trust and curiosity.

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