The Nigerian Senate recently passed into law the Cyber Crime Bill that is aimed at tackling a major problem for the country. Olubayo Abiodun reports on how the country has been trying to salvage its international reputation
IN the past decade up to 10 Bills on cyber crime were presented at the Nigeria’s National Assembly. But none managed to go through the final reading on the floor of the Senate. Most recently, though, Cyber Crime Bill went through the final reading and was approved by Senate. It is now awaiting the assent of the President Goodluck Jonathan in order to become law.
Thus, Nigeria now has potential legislation to fight cyber crime. The Senate has indeed demonstrated its commitment to align with the vision of the president in his determination to fight the internet scammers. What this clearly demonstrates is the unity of purpose towards safeguarding the nation’s presence in cyberspace while ensuring the protection of critical national information infrastructure, national image and bourgeoning e-commerce. The legislation provides for the prohibition, prevention, detection, response, investigation and prosecution of cyber crimes and for other related matters.
Jonathan had taken the battle to cyber criminals in January 2013 when he sent the draft Bill to the National Assembly. The law also criminalises certain acts and omissions in line with regional and international best practices and provide procedural guidelines for the investigation of such offences. While defining the liability of service providers, the law also makes provision that ensures that the national interest is not compromised by the use of electronic communications. Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu said that the legislation would go a long way in fighting corruption as well as reduce to the barest minimum the rate of cyber-crime in Nigeria.
Whether it will provide the needed power for the judiciary to play its expected role in deterring cyber criminals minded would be put to the test as soon as the president’s assent is given to the law.
As cyber crimes, such as hacking, continue to grow, many African governments have been ill-prepared to deal with the challenges attached to such crimes. It would seem that there is little being done to discourage marauders on cyberspace, given the very few legislations in African countries to deal with these criminals.
The threat is awesome, given the scale of global e-commerce and the digital economy at large. There are good and bad sides to the world of the knowledge driven economy. The good side is the ability to participate in the virtual interaction in the digital economy. The flip side is where hackers have created their own underground economy. It is this side that has become a major problem for world leaders.
At last month’s Asia-Pacific Economic (APEC) Summit in Beijing, US President Barack Obama urged the Chinese government to oppose cyber theft for commercial gains. The two nations have been at each other’s throat over the issues relating to cyber crimes such as identity theft and espionage. Obama has real cause for concern, given the scale of accusation and counter accusation over cyber espionage. No serious government can afford to ignore the growing threats that cyber criminalities are posing to the global economic, security and political communities.
In 2009, the Centre for Strategic and International Studies came up with a report, which estimated hacking costs to the global economy at $1 trillion. This is what has prompted Obama, various US intelligence officials and members of Congress to press for American legislation on cyber crime.
The Symantec’s 2014 report noted: “2011 saw 232 million identities exposed in data breach incidents — this number more than doubled in 2013, with more than 552 million identities breached. Eight of the breaches in 2013 exposed more than 10 million identities each.”
Besides, revelations by the US security contractor, Edward Snowden, have also rocked governments, global businesses, and the technology world. And this is what pundits think is the crux of the matter. This is the trending perspective on the still-unfolding implications, along with IT security and risk management best practices.
With the interconnection of the global communities via telecommunications infrastructure, computers and other digital devices, scammers operating in cyberspace are ripping off the unwary. While the police and other law enforcement agents try their best, a major flaw exists: there are simply no effective laws that capture cyber crime and prescribe punishment for cyber criminals, such that operatives in the virtual realm are acting more like loose canons. Today, the buzzwords among the criminal gangs on the web include black market for hacks, cracks, data theft, botnets and zero days. What is more disturbing is the discovery that the black market for cyber crime has changed from a “varied landscape of discrete, ad hoc networks of individuals motivated by ego and notoriety, has now become a burgeoning powerhouse of highly organized groups, often connected with traditional crime groups (e.g., drug cartels, mafias, terrorist cells) and nation-states”.
Within the same timeline, the booming hackers market is causing a headache for governments across the world. For instance, amid a growing battle between American government agencies and hackers, cyber warriors and cyber-enemy nation states, the US is ramping up its malware stockpile to ‘hack back’ at those who attack it. This is considered a new frontier where nations acquire capacity to indulge in activities, which ordinarily should have been considered criminal.
The hacking business is so vast and difficult to constraint. Pundits described it thus: “It is challenging to describe what the entire market looks like. It is too vast, has too many players, is too disjointed, is constantly changing, and, because it is a criminal market, pains are taken to prevent law enforcement from understanding it.”happy wheels