COVID19 Forced Nigerians To Understand The Value Of ICT – Kashifu Abdullahi

The COVID-19 pandemic and global lockdown has become a leading factor for Nigerians to realize the key values of Information and Communications Technology especially in closing distances and disseminating information.

Director General, National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), Mallam Kashifu Inuwa Abdullahi, disclosed this today at the Webinar for Nigerian IT & IT Security Community with the theme, “Back To Basics – COVID-19 & Critical Security Controls” organised by the Agency, in partnership with Africa’s emerging cyber security VAD leader, Spire Solutions.

Abdullahi said that, guidance from the Ministry of Health to stay at home and social distancing directive propelled adoption and use of ICT to new heights. The word “work from home” have now become common place. The boom in the use of virtual platforms and increase in online activities by individuals, government and businesses led to increase in global internet traffic, Nigeria inclusive.

According to Abdullahi, ICT sector contributed 14.07% to the total real GDP in Q1 2020, higher than its contribution a year earlier (13.32%) and in the preceding quarter, in which it accounted for 13.12% in Nigeria.

He lamented that Cyber crime incidences skyrocketed with social media accounts being hacked, phising emails and other malicious attacks on unsuspecting users.

“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 lamented.

Abdullahi averred that to survive these antics of cybercriminals during the pandemic and post-pandemic, there is 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 recorded how Google discovered approximately 149 thousand phishing websites, in March alone, which later increased to 552 thousand, increasing by 350% since January.

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 site 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, NITDA as a responsible agency lives up to expectation by providing Nigerians with advisory notes on these incidences. Where the Agency carries out periodic awareness program to enlighten Nigerians on the dos and don’ts in the cyber space.

Abdullahi concluded that securing cyberspace is a prerequisite to a robust digital economy championed by Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy under the leadership of Dr Isa Ali Ibrahim (Pantami). Therefore he implore all Nigerians to be vigilante while doing their activities online.

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