In this special Channels Televison, sunrise classic team of Kayode Akintemi and Olusola Toyin Momoh interviews Chukwuemeka Fred Agbata Jnr. (CFA) – Nigeria’s leading digital media consultant on Cyber Crime and the Nigerian Economy.
Kayode Akintemi is General Manager Operations at Channels Television, responsible for the core broadcast operations of the station. He is an award-winning broadcast journalist who has helped positioned Channels Television as Nigeria’s foremost broadcast station.
Olusola Toyin Momoh is Executive Director and Co-founder of Channels Television, a seasoned Broadcaster with over 20 years of experience in Television Journalism.
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Kayode Akintemi: When we look at our economy today, before we even talk about cyber crime, let’s look at the opportunities that abound on the Internet, that we seem to lose or miss out on but a handful of people are making good. The opportunities that are there for us on the internet as a nation, are we tapping into it the correct way?
CFA: Alright thank you, I would say no, not yet. The opportunities on the internet are so vast. This is what I do on a daily basis, and I can see that it has a huge opportunity. There is a website called Internet statistics Website, if you visit that website Nigeria has the tenth largest internet users population, according to the website there are 48 million internet users generally, based on that particular website.
Olusola Toyin Momoh: Tenth is not bad, is it? Considering no power, Internet access, the price we pay to access the internet which is still very expensive, compared to the rest of the world.
CFA: It’s not bad, it’s a very good figure, and it’s a very good number. With no power, all the challenges… cuts in…. highly expensive, so tenth is a very good figure, its show a lot of potential.
I was speaking to a company that came to Nigeria to launch an eCommerce website and I asked the young man, I said with all the negativity we hear about Nigeria, why you are coming in and what gives you the confidence?
And the guy looked at me with this smile, this look on his face, You guys don’t know the opportunity you have, the opportunities are so huge and he said this is just the beginning that from his research. He brought out his laptop and he showed me some quality research.
He said form his research Nigeria’s mobile population is going to grow higher. I mean if you look at the about 48 million users, using this figure as an example, it is still less than 30% of the total population thereabout, so the opportunities are there. Part of what I do as a trainer and consultant, I encourage businesses because the cost of doing businesses is on the rise. So what you need to do, you need to look at ways technology can help you to cut down on the cost.
So the opportunities are there and are we maximizing them as a nation, I would say NO! For example, the eCommerce boom that we are experiencing now, while we have Nigerians on the internet that own various eCommerce websites, they are not making the most of it. If you go to some sites (we were just discussing while waiting here in Channels Television) there is a particular eCommerce site, I am not going to mention the name but everywhere you see them online – these are owned by South Africans even though they have Nigerians on board, the truth of the matter is that, it has a South African origin and they are here and every moment, they are doing all sorts of adverts and probably they are not making the money now as there are lot of challenges distribution challenges, payment challenges, a lot of challenges but you know the innovation they came up with, pay on delivery, that was a good innovation. So don’t worry just shop, we will bring to your doorstep then you pay us, it has its own risk but that’s what they are doing.
Olusola Toyin Momoh: We are going to have more internet access and that will mean more cyber crime, now tell us what kind of cyber crimes, should I say are available? What kind of cyber crimes do people carry out?
CFA: Alright thanks. I will say this very straight up people should understand that the internet is as important as for instance your passport. The internet we call it the online real estate. It is so important that you have to take care of it so it means that your passwords, your credit cards, your credit information, your account information etc. These are things you have to take care of, you have to keep them very sacred.
So, based on my experience as a trainer and a consultant I usually tell people something simple as your password because virtually every website will require that you enter your password, so I start by asking why do you like using very simple passwords? i.e. 1920fred or fred1980 – you know with the date of birth, you don’t understand that the people who are perpetuating cyber-crimes are very smart people, unfortunately they are extremely smart. So they could just pick up your Facebook, twitter, maybe gmail or yahoo, they can guess and make some very good guesses. It starts with the password, you have to use very secure passwords across the internet and you have to ensure that you don’t repeat the same passwords on two sites. Each site should have very a unique password. And it should be alphabet numeric.
Olusola Toyin Momoh: How should we remember that?
CFA: Before I answer that, your password should be alpha-numeric – that means it should contains letters, numbers and symbols, so as to make it difficult. Now there are a lot of tools to do that. We were just talking about cloud computing, cloud technology how its growing, so if you ask me I use a free tool called lastpass (lastpass.com), it is a free tool.
Personally, I have over a thousand accounts and they all have alpha-numeric passwords, so there is no way on earth I can remember all of them. They are all unique but I manage them with Lastpass, so I just need to remember one master password which I change frequently but also everybody who owns a account on the internet should at least try to change your account password once in a month or once in two weeks but minimum once in a month should be fine because for instance if a group of hackers hack into say Facebook for instance they can get access or hold of whole line of passwords they can use to access accounts. So, if you don’t do that regularly you can fall victim and it cuts across.
For instance, let me give you an example of a cyber-crime I experienced personally my website was hacked and the guys inserted some codes on my website so if you visit my website it’ll automatically download those codes on your system and then it starts stealing your secret information, your account information, your credit card information, your date of birth, your pictures and the funny thing about the kind of cyber-crime that is going on now, it’s so smart and powerful that it can take hold of your PC even while working. I mean your computer is booting, you can see your computer booting but behind it is a guy working on it. Honestly you are there, you’re seeing it, you might even be doing some work but the guy is also doing some work at the same time accessing every single information you have on your system.
Therefore, part of what people need to do is you need to start looking at having software such as lock my pc, on your system so that you can erase your data remotely if you have to, on your phone or your tablets and on your PCs. This is must for everybody who has got gadgets today. Because when you lose your phone immediately, somebody can get into your phone and the person can wreak havoc with your data on it.
There is a guy somewhere an editor and his actual account was hacked before the guy knew what was happening, the guy deleted every single information he had on the internet, from his Facebook to his yahoo, he deleted everything and guess what he wrote him personal email and told him if he doesn’t speak, he is going to tell him how he did it. And the guy agreed that he wouldn’t report him to the police in US and he told him everything step by step how he performed the hack – brilliant hack, very brilliant.
Olusola Toyin Momoh: When a cybercrime is committed, we probably go to EFCC or police, do you think that our securities themselves are adequately informed and trained for these crimes which we expect them to investigate and solve for us?
CFA: NO! There are no 2 ways about it because if you want to pin somebody down who is into cyber-crime, you got to know exactly what he’s doing, you’ve got to have an idea of what’s he’s doing, So I would say no and I will give you typical example one of mentor and clients – I consult for him, Mazi Sam Ohuabunwa, he had his yahoo account hacked some time ago and the person who hacked the account, first of all deleted all his private questions, changed everything, so there was no way he could claim ownership of that account any longer, so the account was lost. And the guy(hacker) just like you mentioned earlier, he started sending everybody emails that Mazi was in trouble and because people know him, a lot of them were almost responding until he got to know.
In that case the people who performed that act were certainly close by, I think he made effort, he called yahoo but nothing happened. What it simply means, is that the people who are supposed to enforce these laws need training, if they even have to learn the principles of hacking so be it because you can’t catch a criminal if you don’t understand what he is doing. And the hackers are most times gentle people with normal faces, very cool guys, cool ladies very cool people and they do these things. So for our security agencies to be able to tackle this, they’ve got to get some bit of training, that will help them understand how it works. Because the truth on the matter is that it works like the speed of light I mean very fast. We are sitting down here and before we know what’s happening the guy is in your account imagine if it is a politician, so they are going through your account and they mess up everything and just imagine the Facebook account of a prominent politician reads something strange – how do you explain it wasn’t me? I mean it’s difficult, by then the deed is done.
This cuts across everybody, government and just like Wande mentioned the internet is going to cause a very massive revolution in this country. I tell people everywhere, whether we are accepted it or not, whether we are like it or not, whether we believe in it or not, it is happening – our children, our families, our fathers, everybody is going on the internet and there has to be regulation. It is very important! Again for instance apart from the home security that is in charge, the FCC in the US is also doing a lot. For instance you can’t send someone emails if I did not request for it. The FCC will fine you for that if I report you to them. Every email provider for example has what is called the FCC Spam act, you have to send emails to only those people who accept to receive that emai;s. They came up with the idea because they understand that one of the ways to perpetuate cyber-crime is emails. Send an email.
Olusola Toyin Momoh: So how come spam is around so much?
CFA: Yes well that shows you that is cyber crime. The email providers are spending billions of dollars to fight spam. And it keeps coming up because all you need to do is sit down with a blaster (I mean there are different names for it) and the blaster can send one million emails in a second. I mean how are you going to do that? And the guy can sit down there and can send hundred million emails in a day or two and they are all owned by people.
So part of what you should do as somebody and I tell people never click on any link with your email address, never except your hundred percent sure. If you’re not sure don’t click. Copy and paste on your browser, that is much better. Because the purpose of clicking is that it drops in the code, or malware or spyware into your system. These are the some basic security measures you should take as user, whether you’re a politician, a banker whether you’re a journalist – it cuts across everybody
You have an image to protect online and it’s your duty to start protecting it now.
Kayode Akintemi: Final words
CFA: Based on my role as a media consultant; I am going to talk about parents and social media. I think what parents should do in terms of security is that parents should start understanding what their are children do on the internet and one of the things they can do, is that they should know about their children’s friends online, they should try as much as possible because that’s the next area where we are going to the cyber-crime. A lot of children (God forbid) are going to get molested, lot of things are going to happen via social media so I think I should encourage and advice parents to be more conscious of who their children interact with on social media and what they do on social media. Because most parents are not understanding as it where, kids don’t add their parents as friends so parents must understand, that times have changed you can’t bring your 1940 strategy into 2012, it can’t work – this is jet internet age! It has come to stay so parents please understand what your children do online and try to understand it because you can’t stop them.
I have been to trainings and meetings where parents ask me? What can we do our children are always holding phones or on Facebook. I say parents there is nothing you can do, it has come to stay. So what you can do now as a parent is to understand what your children do on social media and try to be there friends.
Kayode Akintemi: Thank you very much CFA.
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I hope you found this helpful? Feel free to contact me with your questions or requests. I am still committed to helping you Leverage the Internet for increased profit and brand perception.