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Cybercrimes on the Increase in West Africa – Report

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Trend Micro Incorporated, a global leader in cyber security solutions, in collaboration with INTERPOL, on Monday released research on cybercriminal activity in West Africa, “Cybercrime in West Africa: Poised for an Underground Economy,” as part of its ongoing Cybercriminal Underground Economy Series (CUES). Scams targeting individuals and businesses have grown exponentially since 2013.

West African cybercriminal activity is driven by two types of threat actors: Yahoo Boys and Next-Level Cybercriminals. Yahoo Boys, named for their reliance on Yahoo apps to communicate, became the primary type of cybercriminal in this region in the early 2000s. They focus on less technically advanced schemes, including advanced-fee, stranded traveler and romance scams under the supervision of a ringleader. Next-Level Cybercriminals are able to execute more sophisticated attacks, such as Business Email Compromise (BEC) and tax scams. The more complex attacks take more time and investment, but the average BEC scam results in a payout of $140,000, making it worth the extra time and effort.

“Our ongoing collaboration with INTERPOL is aimed at mitigating the risks posed by cybercriminals around the world, with this research specifically focusing on cybercrime in West Africa,” said Raimund Genes, chief technology officer for Trend Micro.

“While there is not yet an actual underground marketplace, cybercrime is pervasive in West Africa. Both the approach to cybercrime and the manner in which threat actors communicate lead to a cybercriminal ecosystem unlike any other we’ve experienced thus far. The unique nature of the problem also presents its own set of roadblocks in bringing these criminals to justice.”

One constant finding throughout Trend Micro’s CUES research is that each underground marketplace culturally reflects the region in which it operates, and West Africa is no exception. Cybercriminals here openly communicate, even potentially meeting in person, sharing best practices and encouraging newcomers. This has developed a culture among threat actors that encourages scamming and supporting one another.

“This joint paper shows that criminals across the region are becoming more technically savvy, and this emerging underground market will require an even stronger law enforcement response in the future, both in terms of training for investigators and ensuring the appropriate legislation is in place,” said Noboru Nakatani, Executive Director of INTERPOL’s Global Complex for Innovation (IGCI). “In addition to building awareness of cybercrime-related issues across West Africa and beyond, the research also highlights the importance of public-private partnerships in identifying and arresting criminals, as well as educating businesses and governments about cyber threats.

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E-Business

YouTube Go launches in Nigeria

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YouTube has announced that the YouTube Go app previewed at the recent Google for Nigeria event is now available for initial public download in Nigeria.

YouTube has been reimagined to meet the needs of the next generation of users in YouTube Go, which is available for initial download in the Google Play Store. YouTube plans to continue to learn from our users to improve the app over time.

Speaking on the announcement, Johanna Wright, VP Product Management at YouTube, said: “YouTube Go has been designed to take into account the challenges faced by YouTube users in countries like Nigeria, such as data cost and connectivity. With YouTube Go, we are making it possible for everyone in Nigeria to be able to discover videos that they love, regardless of their network status or data consumption preferences.”

With more Nigerians coming online every year, and most of them only using their mobiles for internet access, we are working hard to make products that are tailored to Nigerians’ specific needs.

“You can save videos for offline watching, and can choose what resolution video to save – basic quality or standard quality – giving you better control over how you use your precious data.”, he added.

Built from the ground up to meet the needs of the growing online youth population, YouTube Go offers easy video downloading, phone-number sign-in, effortless searching, and more effective ways to control data use.

YouTube Go also features a home screen that shows both personalized recommendations as well as trending and popular videos nearby, allowing users to see the latest content that the people around are watching, upfront.

It offers a ‘preview video’ function to make it easier to decide what to watch or download.

Before developing YouTube Go, the YouTube team spent thousands of hours gathering information, conducting interviews, doing testing, and refining the product. The result is YouTube Go, an entirely new YouTube app that is designed to be offline first.

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Improved Security Strategies Required for ePlatforms Uptakes- ITSSP

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By peter oluka ‎

Nigeria requires adequate cyber security measures to sustain the growth of service deliveries through e-Platforms, said information security experts.

Professor Adesina Sodiya, president of ITSSP in a telephone interview with Nigeria CommunicationsWeek, described cybercrime as a growing global threat, but every country has learnt to defend its cyber space.

Prof. Sodiya said, ‎”Cybercrime is a global challenge; and the recent attacks in Nigeria have been affecting critical areas of our activities. That is why this group is concerned about the development of solutions to tackle the menace. We have to continue to discourse the way forward in terms of our national cyber development”‎

He said that, ‎as a country, professionals must be engaged to develop the cyber defence strategies. “Many countries have gone ahead with the development of defence mechanisms in the cyber space; Nigeria must not be left behind. We have not gotten there.‎

“Why do we need to be more serious about cyber space? There is a popular saying today that the next world war will happen at the cyber space.

“As at now, many countries are gathering information about other countries. They are peeping into other countries’ activities, which calls for us to develop our cyber security strategies to monitor inflow and outflow of data”.

Mr. ‎Aderogba Adeoye, former president of ITSSP also told Nigeria CommunicationsWeek that increase in these e-platforms calls for improved cyber security awareness.‎

“Everybody is talking about e-platforms. If we are to run the e-platforms, it entails a need to develop capacities for security. Your data or information can be wiped off in a twinkle of an eye. As far as the e-commerce platforms are concerned, the intention is to make profit.‎

“For us to continue reaping benefits in e-services applications the capacity development of the human capital must be taken very serious. This is what the conference tends to address.‎

“We are not relenting. ITSSP is an interest group of the Nigeria Computer Society (NCS); it is important to us to advocate for focus on issues related to cyber security”, he said.‎‎

He added that recent advocacies have yielded results with the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), for instance, introduced information security departments. “That is a right step in good direction. The other day we engaged the Ministry of Justice and the National Security Adviser (NSA) and they were convincing enough on how admitting electronic evidences are helpful in combating cybercrimes”. ‎

“In order to build capacity government has to enhance IT policing activities by ensuring that anybody executing government projects, in IT, are registered professionals. This is another way to elicit adherence to the rules of the business,” Adeoye added. ‎‎

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E-Business

Stakeholders Frown at Nigeria’s Position on eReadiness Report

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by Chike Onwuegbuchi

Information and communications technology stakeholders have frowned at the recent position of the Nigeria on eReadiness status where the country is placed 119 out of 139 countries.

eReadiness refers to a country’s capacity and state of preparedness to participate in the electronic world.

The state of maturity is commonly measured by the country’s information and communications technology (ICT) infrastructure and the ability of its government and citizens to utilize the positive impacts of ICT for sustainable development.

Chris Uwaje, director general, Delta State Innovation Hub, who disclosed the country’s position said: “In the e-readiness report just released early this week Nigeria is sitting at 119.”

He said; “eReadiness status is about the aggregate measure of how countries are faring using ICT or within the ICT landscape, it embodied economic, educational and social index, measured along the lines of sustainable development goals. Each country has an index that they need to pass, it just like exam. But the aggregate sum of our domain platform today is really unacceptable. It keeps us into that realm of super consumption country in ICT but less in innovative and creativity and that is wrong.”

He explained that the more we consume the more we cannot create employment. “The more we consume, the more we are funding capital flight, the more we consume the more our educational sector will be malnourished in terms of knowledge, and will not be attractive, that is why more Nigerians are now in Ghanaian universities and in Republic of Benin universities.

“For the country to move up it is about knowledge Olympiad. We need to refine our educational system, government need to invest more on knowledge parks, incubators, and fund incubators. We have to ensure that lectures and those who can replicate knowledge are given added resources and reward system that enables them. Because we need to create a digital army for this country, so that when financial sector, aviation, transport or any other sector is attack can we defend it?”

Amos Emmanuel, chief executive officer, Programos Software, said that Nigeria has a lot to do if she has to move up in the ladder of e-readiness.

“The game of e-readiness has changed; it is no longer like technological transfer from Europe or America the focus is now on innovation base on the environment. Nigeria needs to reformulate its digital policy,” he said.

He blamed the country’s socio-cultural environment as impediment to application of information and communications technology to every sector of the economy.

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