The management of Digital Encode, comprising Wale Obadare, chief operation officer and Seyi Akindehinde, chief technical officer, shared their insights on how to defeat cybercrime. Excerpt.
Can we look at the challenges of cybercrime, which is your area of expertise?
Anything that has to do with computer, you have to remember that it would be connected to the internet and that gives you the opportunity to access information. For instance, if I needed something I had to wait. Everybody is talking about the world cup. You can get the scores on your mobile device. But back then you had to listen from your radio or television stations. That was how were living then. The kind of crimes we had then were physical crimes. Your money can be physically stolen. Your document can be physically stolen.
Now with the advent of the internet, everything is electronically connected. So the social media means, as I am here now, there are things that are happening over there. I can see what is going on from here. Probably if I am streaming a video via the Facebook, Instagram or another platform, people can get detailed information about me. Unfortunately, once you are on the internet, once you open that border, you are going to have a lot of issues. You are going to have a lot of cybercrimes. You are going to have a lot of people that want to beat the system. Obviously, that means I do not need to be physically present to steal anything.
The challenge is that people do not have the understanding of how the internet works. Some people take a lot of things for granted whenever they are online. People do not know the harm it would cause in the physical world. If you have confidential documents, I am sure you would not leave it unattended. But because we just feel it is the social media, we do not take precautionary measures to protect our documents online. You cannot open the door of your house to anybody when you are going out. What we do is to lock our door and you know. You need to look at the online environment like that.
Tell me more about this
In fact, in the days of the magnetic strip card, what most car drivers used to do is to sell the same data, which is a primary account number and PIN and some guys have what is called card cloning machines. They would duplicate the card and start to spend the fund in the cloned account. That changed when the chip and PIN card was introduced into the financial market.
Give me some example of simple passwords you have noticed?
There are some cards you cannot use in Nigeria. But you can do some web transactions because what you need for web transaction is still the same data and your PIN and then of course, which cuts across so many areas such as your Facebook account’s password etc. Some people sometime use very funny password like Jesus123, Hala123. Words that can easily decipher and the reality is most of those hackers are very dedicated because that is what they do for a living. So they know that because when you talk about cybercrime, cyber security, it is both science and art.
What informed the combinations of words?
The hackers and cybercriminals always think through things. They know that most of the time people do not like to think about things that are too difficult, as such; they know that people use password combinations of God123. They know that we love God in Nigeria. We love Allah. We love Jesus. They know all of those things and so they start to combine the words together and add the numbers. That is when a celebrity would say his account has been hacked. Even some government parastatals that own websites use default accounts. Default account comes with a website and most of those default accounts have admin as standard best practices. This means you should change most of those default accounts.
How does your organisation support the government to curb cybercrime and what solutions would you be offering government to fight cyber security, cybercrime etc?
You cannot treat a symptom of an ailment you do not understand. You cannot offer solution to something that we live in two opposite worlds. Some people still believe that this cyber space is something that they cannot even hold. That is why a lot of lawyers, judges, and those who understand that we can push the cybercrime up to the level of the Senate or the Presidency. We can say, look, the cybercrime is real. Until we do that we cannot treat the symptoms.
So what is the solution?
Like I said before, if you steal physically or you are actually stealing you can accuse someone of a crime. Of course, now when it gets to court the judge needs evidence. Something like CCTV or asking you to prove that the suspect actually stole some valuables. But the thing about electronic is that if I log onto your email account and look at a document and I copy it there is no evidence. The judge would ask you to bring the server, which has been hacked into. If the server I used is from Google that is unfortunate. You do not see the Google’s server. So the case would be null and void. They suspect would be set free. The judges need to know that anything virtual is like anything that moves at the speed of light. So the judges have to start to get to terms with digital forensics.
There are some times when people talk about the Yahoo, Yahoo, boys and stuffs. The Police would make arrests and seize their laptops. Okay, what if the Yahoo, Yahoo boys has deleted all the fake documents used to defraud the unsuspecting foreigners? Therefore, when the laptop is logged on there is nothing. That is when experts should come in because the experts know that he has deleted the documents and you cannot recover the data. So those are the kind of things that government need to expand on. The Police and Economic and Financial Crimes Commission [EFCC] need to know that cybercrime is not visual any longer. Cybercrimes are things you cannot see. They are things you cannot see so you need skills, knowledge, and you need to train people.
That is why in the USA cybercriminals are arrested every day. The government would show the traces of the cybercriminals. With laws and through Internet Protocol, the USA can trace the cybercriminals. They can track them because they have the skills. We need an enabling policy. One of the things I actually would like government to do is that anybody that is in the law enforcement need to understand the internet technology, even the technology that the hackers use. When they understand how hackers work, the law enforcement agents would not accuse anybody that wears dreadlocks and carrying laptop as Yahoo, Yahoo boy.
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