Cybercrime, Security and Human Psychology: Internet Addiction, Literacy on Cybercrime and Security

CONTRIBUTED BY: AJIBADE FARIDA

INTRODUCTION

The word “Cybercrime” refers to criminal incidents which occur with the use of targeted computers or networks that could affect individuals or organizations leading to financial losses, breach of privacy and identity theft. In Nigeria, as well as in other parts of the world, it is considered a business and a means of livelihood, especially amongst the young in the country. In simple terms, cybercrime is a felonious conduct wherein a computer is used as a tool in committing an offence or a target to an offence[1].

This article will focus on and also illustrate Cybercrime, its impact on society, types of threats, and cyber security and Human Psychology.

The world has seen a remarkable transformation in terms of the use of Information Technology (IT) with the advent of internet-based companies, banking, trading, travel and journalism The introduction to “Information Technology” defines the use of any computer for storage networking on physical devices and infrastructure to process and create means of exchanging information and communication. The use of information technology or as it is called in general terms “internet”, is greatly important in modern-day communication as serves as a pari-passu in every human’s day-to-day activities and frankly has become an ease to daily life activities.

Interestingly, the Internet has become so simplified that anyone without an IT background, educated or non-literate, has benefited from information technology and this has eased out almost every humanized action[2]. But then this brings the question of how to handle security, cybercrime and how to face it when you become “the victim”

THE NIGERIAN CYBER CRIME ACT 2015

The Nigerian Cybercrimes Act was passed and put into effect on May 15, 2015. The Act establishes in Nigeria a consistent and comprehensive legal, regulatory, and institutional framework for the prevention, detection, prosecution, and punishment of cybercrime. The Nigerian Cybercrimes Act 2015, gives the President the power to designate certain computer systems networks and information infrastructure vital to the national security of Nigeria, or the economic and social well-being of its citizens, and to also implement procedures and guidelines and conduct audits in furtherance of that[3].

In Nigeria, under the Cybercrimes Act, 2015, there are certain offences for which this act has provided punishment to help deter from committing these offences. For example, illegal hacking; if found guilty of unlawfully accessing a computer system or network, such Offender would be liable to a fine of up to N10 million or a term of imprisonment of 5 years [4]( and this is dependent on the purpose of the hack).

Similarly, Identity theft attracts a punishment of not less than 3 years imprisonment and or a fine of not less than 7 million naira. Also, the Act did not shy away from acknowledging grievous offences such as Child Pornography, which attracts imprisonment of a term not less than 10 years, and or a fine of not less than 20 million naira. This includes producing, procuring, distributing and being in possession of child pornography. A more serious penalty would be an offence committed against a system or network that has been designated critical national infrastructure of Nigeria, that has resulted in the death of an individual and such offence attracts a death penalty[5]. With this act passed and in full effect with a Nigerian agency instilled to administer this act such as the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, this still begets the question of whether the Internet Addiction Act was a stumble for the enforcement of the CYBERCRIMES ACT 2015.

INTERNET ADDICTION

Are you playing games on the internet in excess? Are you compulsively shopping online? Cannot get yourself to stop checking Instagram, Twitter, WhatsApp and such like social media? Is your excessive computer use interfering with your daily life? If you answered YES to more than 2 of these questions, you might have an Internet Addiction Disorder. However, not officially recognized as a mental health disorder. Researchers have compared the excessive use of the Internet as bad a gambling addiction, as it plays a psychological impact on the lives of people most especially the younger generation, who live in a virtual fantasy world and fail to connect with a real human connection. With Apps such as TikTok and YouTube which serve as a means of livelihood by exposing private lives for the pleasure of viewers, it could be well seen how the cankerworm of cybercrime digs deeper.

IMPACT ON SOCIETY

Cybercrime activities have surged globally in the past decade. Nigeria is not immune to these attacks; the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) ranked Nigeria 16th in the global cybercrime victims report in 2021. As a result, the alarming rate of growth in Cybercrimes activities in Nigeria cannot be overstated. It is breaking the vulnerability, availability and confidentiality of our data, and this does not stop at social media but also spreads cyber-piracy related to film and music of artists which has become serious business in the country. In Nigeria, some factors which could be pointed to as leading factor to the emergence of cybercrimes includes:  unemployment, poverty, a quest for wealth, lack of strong cybercrimes legislations and incompetent security on personal devices, among others are the triggers for these crimes in Nigeria. These crimes have inflicted serious damage to our economy, citizens, government and financial institutions at large[6].

Furthermore, in Nigeria, individuals, hackers or connected networks of criminals, motivated by financial interest are the major players in the field of Cybercrimes. During a raid by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), on March 10, 2018, the commission reported that a gang of seven hackers stole 900 million naira from a single bank via malicious software in the State of Lagos. In another incident, 13 suspects believed to be affiliated with an organized cybercriminals syndicate were also arrested by EFCC operatives on September 2, 2020. Worse, on April 19, 2021, the same EFCC agents apprehended 33 suspected internet fraudsters in Abeokuta, Ogun State, after receiving actionable intelligence on the suspects’ alleged involvement in criminal activities. In another recent development, EFCC operations in the Ilorin Zonal office arrested 30 suspected “yahoo” boys, majority of whom were students[7].

CYBER SECURITY

Security is maintained everywhere in our general lives and this should be applied in our everyday exposure to the internet, with the constant use of computers and cell phones from unauthorized access, attacks and vulnerabilities delivered via the internet by Cybercriminals. As a result of limited literacy about cybercrime and security, certain measures should be taken to raise awareness and enlighten people on how to combat cyber threats and cybercrimes. Lack of information and awareness about cybercrimes would increase the chances of falling victim to a cyber-threat.

Some prevention tips to practice are:

  1. Read the fine print on website privacy policies.
  2. Keep your software updated.
  3. Discuss and enlighten your children about the internet.
  4. Always review financial statements frequently.
  5. Sign out or log out of your account.
  6. Maintain strong passwords and different passwords for every account.
  7. Change your password regularly at least once a month.
  8. Do not reply to unfamiliar emails or click on shady links.
  9. Do not share your personal information via email, social sites or phones, etc.
  10. While using any website please check whether the website connection is secured or not.

CONCLUSION

This article examines the impact of the Information Communication Technology (ICT) revolution on business, industry, government and the country’s image in the light of the unintended consequences such as criminal activities, spamming, phasing, identity theft and other related cybercrimes, an assessment of cybercrimes and its impact on users and also solutions. Emphasis is also laid on the laws of the Federal Republic of Nigeria on cybercrimes and also their consequences.

Key Terms: Instagram, hacker, Economic and financial crimes commission, EFCC, yahoo boys, identity theft, cyber security, cyber crimes

  1. Dubey, R. (2004) Cyber crimes “An unlawful act where in the computer is either a tool or a target or both” – technology – India, Cyber Crimes “an unlawful act where in the computer is either a tool or a target or both” – Technology – India. Dubey & Partners – Advocates.
  2. . index Copernicus –opening science http://indexcorpenicus.com/index.php/en
  3. USMAN, A.B.B.A.H. (no date) an overview of Cybercrime (Prevention & Prohibition) act, 2015, An Overview of Cybercrime (Prevention & Prohibition) Act, 2015. Available at: https://nji.gov.ng/wp-content/uploads/2020/11/Abbah-Usman-Presintation.pdf (Accessed: February 20, 2023).
  4. USMAN, A.B.B.A.H. (no date) an overview of Cybercrime (Prevention & Prohibition) act, 2015, An Overview of Cybercrime (Prevention & Prohibition) Act, 2015. Available at: https://nji.gov.ng/wp-content/uploads/2020/11/Abbah-Usman-Presintation.pdf (Accessed: February 20, 2023).
  5. USMAN, A.B.B.A.H. (no date) an overview of Cybercrime (Prevention & Prohibition) act, 2015, An Overview of Cybercrime (Prevention & Prohibition) Act, 2015. Available at: https://nji.gov.ng/wp-content/uploads/2020/11/Abbah-Usman-Presintation.pdf (Accessed: February 20, 2023).
  6. Enang, W. (2023) 5 solutions to cybercrime in Nigeria, ProGuide. Available at: https://proguide.ng/solutions-cybercrime-nigeria/ (Accessed: February 20, 2023).
  7. Adebayo, A. (2022) four cybercrime fraudsters jailed in Ilorin, Daily Post Nigeria. Daily Post Nigeria. Available at: https://dailypost.ng/2022/06/28/four-cybercrime-fraudsters-jailed-in-ilorin/ (Accessed: February 20, 2023).

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