African countries need to urgently scale up efforts to combat cybercrimes through a multi-stakeholder approach involving government, industry, private and civil society organizations.
Cisco’s Virtual Networking Index (VNI) predicts that Internet traffic in the Middle East and Africa in 2020 will be equivalent to 527x the volume of the entire Internet that was in the region in 2005. In addition, the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), Cisco’s global partner in skills development through the Cisco Networking Academy, states that the global share of e-commerce for the Middle East and Africa is expected to rise to 2.3 percent this year, an increase from 1.6 percent market share in 2011.
The rise of technology has however presented new challenges. One such risk that requires direct attention and action is cybercrime. It is reported that recent attacks on the Westgate Mall in Kenya, the Al-Qaida in Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), and the activities of Boko Haram right here in Nigeria have all been supported by the internet, posing a whole new threat to cybercrime.
The most popular of cybercrimes in Nigeria is phishing and instances of malware attacks. Cybersecurity experts predict that 80 percent of Africa’s PC’s are infected by viruses and malicious software. This is especially concerning considering that 67 percent of traffic was generated by PCs in 2015 and this amount will increase to 21 percent by 2020.
One of the industries that will be affected most by PC related cybercrimes in the form of phishing and malware attacks in the context of Nigeria, is the Financial Services Industry. The FS industry in Nigeria has experienced an increasing evolution of global players over the years who come to the market with sophisticated connected IT solutions – players like Visa and MasterCard spring to mind. Local players, therefore, have had to drastically scale their digital capabilities in order to remain competitive.
In addition, the banking sector has evolved rapidly in the last 10 years and so has their adoption for new technology. Banks are now utilising mobile and PC to improve customer experience and through technology, they are able to spread their services to other regions previously unbanked in Nigeria. Although more needs to be done in this field, technology is viewed by the banking industry as a way to improve productivity and efficiencies towards customer satisfaction and loyalty. Technology also opens doors for additional channels of banking so that their customers could have different channels of operations and customer experiences.
Technology has increased exponentially over the past 10 years and as a result, it has contributed to vulnerability to cybercrimes. Other crimes were perpetuated in the past but cybercrimes require a networking infrastructure to succeed.
At Cisco, our security architecture takes a wholesome approach to security threats, looking at a Before, During and After Attack approach. Our network has a comprehensive security system embedded in it in order to prevent as many attacks from infiltrating the system as possible. During an attack, we have defending and remedial products that could help customers experience minimal impact and consequence as a result of the attack. Lastly, we are also able to assist customers who may have been attacked by learning from the attack and adopting technologies that would prevent a similar attack from impacting their systems.
As we connect more devices, more innovation is needed to protect these devices from cybercrimes and Cisco is constantly innovating everywhere to ensure that we remain steps ahead.
By Olakunle Oloruntimehin, Cisco’s General Manager in Nigeria.