Court convicts five for Internet Fraud

How Growing Youth Involvement In Cybercrimes Impacts Human Capital Development

4 weeks ago
4 mins read

As it has always been said that, “every rose has its thorns,” cybercrime, being a fallout of the 21st century digital technology revolution, has come to be a thorn on the flesh of humanity.

It has continued to take a toll on individuals, corporate organisations, and governments of countries in the forms of hacking, phishing, and fake online identity among others ways adopted by perpetrators for fraudulent activities.

According to AAG IT latest cybercrime statistics, cyber-attacks globally increased by 125% in 2021 compared to 2020, and increasing volumes of cyber-attacks continued to threaten businesses and individuals in 2022. “Nearly 1 billion emails were exposed in a single year, affecting 1 in 5 internet users. Data breaches cost businesses an average of $4.35 million in 2022. Around 236.1 million ransomware attacks occurred globally in the first half of 2022. The most common cyber threat facing businesses and individuals is phishing.”

Some of the most prevailing cybercrimes in Nigeria are: Business Email Compromise (BEC) Schemes, digital extortion, ransomware deployments, phishing scams.

Phishing is seen as the most common form of cybercrime. According to analysis conducted by INTERPOL, 2021 saw nearly 1 billion emails exposed, affecting 1 in 5 internet users. “In 2021, 323,972 internet users reported falling victim to phishing attacks. This means half of the users who suffered a data breach fell for a phishing attack. During the height of the pandemic, phishing incidents rose by 220%.”

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Yahoo Boys use the phishing scam technique to trick individuals into revealing sensitive information, by masquerading as legitimate entities, sending deceptive emails or creating fake websites that mimic trusted organisations or financial institutions. The term “Yahoo Yahoo” is a slang used to describe the fraudulent activities conducted by individuals known as “Yahoo Boys.” They engage in fraudulent activities by using email and messaging platforms and other electronic means to do swindle unsuspecting victims in what is called 419 fraud or advance fee fraud, Which takes the form of convincing their victims to provide upfront fees or personal information under the pretense of offering a lucrative financial opportunity, to perform fraudulent activities.

Cybersecurity experts have warned that Africa is increasingly becoming a leading source of cybercrime, and Nigeria is ranking as one of the top countries in the region for both the target and source of malicious internet activities. In 2020, Nigeria was ranked 16th in the world for the countries most affected by cybercrimes. According to reports from INTERPOL, In Q3 of 2022, Nigeria experienced a 1616% increase in data breaches, from 35,472 in Q2 to 608,765 in Q3.

READ ALSO: Why Employee Collaboration Is Key For Cybersecurity  

According to Nigerian cybersecurity experts, cybercrime not only endangers people and organisations but also impedes the growth of a workforce with the necessary skills in different sectors.

They also warned that the growing trend of youthful population indulging in cybercrimes for quick money to live flamboyant lifestyles has dire negative consequences on human capital development going forward. This is as many are now abandoning skills acquisition in differ areas such artisan works like wood works/furniture, carpentry, masonry, among others. A building engineer who spoke to this writer said many young artisans that work with him at sites who suddenly developed cyber skills have abandoned their works and gone into cyber fraud to make quick money.

Human capital is the economic value of a worker’s experience, skills, knowledge, and other qualities that contribute to their productivity and success in the workplace. It is known to have a relationship with economic growth, productivity, and profitability.

Cybercrime damages the confidence of individuals in online platforms and digital technologies. Because of this, people may become discouraged from pursuing jobs in cybersecurity because they believe it to be a dangerous and unreliable field.

A recent report by Surfshark, an Amsterdam-based cybersecurity firm, ranks Nigeria as the 32nd most breached country in the first quarter of 2023. It said Nigeria is among the countries witnessing a substantial increase in cyber threats, ranging from phishing attacks to data breaches. The financial sector, government institutions, and critical infrastructure are prime targets of cybercriminals.

Furthermore, it has devastating impacts on businesses. This causes them to lose funds and resources. Successful cyberattacks can result in the loss of funds, intellectual property, and customer data, leading to significant financial losses. Cybercriminals have been able to target people and businesses in Nigeria based on the expansion of digital technology and internet usage, which has had severe influence on finances, reputation, and growth of the region. Victor Adewopo and his colleagues, on ‘a comprehensive analytical review on cybercrime in West Africa,’ said that Ransomware attacks on Nigerian businesses skyrocketed from 22% in 2020 to 71% in 2021. “This affected companies paying an average of $3.43 million compared to $0.46 million in the previous year…These cyber vulnerabilities, both domestic and foreign, have not only paralyzed 97% of affected businesses but also resulted in significant revenue losses for 96% of them.”

Those who fall prey to cybercriminals could experience emotional damage. Feelings of vulnerability and anxiety can result from invasions of privacy and ongoing threats. Cybercriminals could also take advantage of stolen data to spread offensive or embarrassing content online, harming someone’s reputation. Such could have far-reaching negative impact on their personal and professional life.

With the growing threats of cybercrime it has become imperative that adequate investments be made in the installation of cybersecurity system and training of experts and by organisations and governments.

READ ALSO: CBN’s Cybersecurity Levy Sparks Reactions From Nigerians

The Nigerian government has continued to fight against cybercrime. Since 2022, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has convicted 2,847 people in connection with cyber-related crimes. The new development of the cybersecurity levy has also been portrayed as a means of curbing the menace of cybercrime and its effect on the Nigerian economy. However, the proposal has been met with a strong opposition by the citizens, National Assembly members and different interest groups who said it is another form of tax that would create more financial burden for the average Nigerians and in turn affect digital transactions in future. They averred that imposing the levy could discourage digital transactions even as Nigerians are equally trapped by the fact that daily cash transactions in banks are limited.

Having seen the reactions generated by the announcement of the levy, President Bola Tinubu subsequently ordered suspension of its implementation by the Central Bank and called for a review.


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