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.
According to the Director-General, National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), Mr. Kashifu Abdullahi, the directive from the Federal Ministry of Health to stay at home and the social distancing protocol adoption has heighten the use of ICT tools across the country.
Abdullahi who made this observation during a Webinar for Nigerian IT & IT Security Community with the theme, “Back To Basics – COVID-19 & Critical Security Controls” organised by NITDA in partnership with an ICT firm, Spire Solutions stated that the cliché, “work from home” has now become common place.
He noted that 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.
He disclosed that the 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.
The NITDA Director-General however 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 said further.
Abdullahi stated 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 explained that Google recently discovered approximately 149 thousand phishing websites, in March alone, which later increased to 552 thousand, increasing by 350% since January.
“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, “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.”