Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Whenever there is a discussion of cyber crimes, the word "Nigeria" will soon be raised. This is the unfortunate reality for the country which has a reputation as the home of many online scammers and other criminals. Yet, Nigeria has been in partnership with Microsoft to combat cyber crime for at least 4 years. Unfortunately, it is not clear whether this partnership has produces significant benefits for the country and its damaging reputation.

In October 2005, Microsoft entered into a contract with the Federal Government of Nigeria to help the country "combat cyber crime". At the time, the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was hailed as a landmark partnership between Microsoft and an African nation. According to Microsoft, the agreement was to
"help support the Nigerian government’s efforts to create a safe legal environment for technology development and enforce laws that help attract investment and ensure sustainable economical development."
The collaboration was intended to address certain online security issues such as spam, financial scams, malicious programs and counterfeiting. Microsoft was to work directly with the anti-corruption body, the Economic Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in achieving these goals and the then EFCC chairman, Nuhu Ribadu, proclaimed that the agreement would help spur "local software industry growth". According to news reports, Microsoft's assistance quickly led to the shutdown of several suspicious ISPs. The MOU was eventually renewed in 2007.

Despite the 2005 contract, a new agreement was just signed between Nigeria and Microsoft on April 30th, 2009. The EFCC website states that "the new agreement comes with additional benefits that will further strengthen the fight against internet crime and piracy." These new benefits apparently include "an extended scope of the partnership to cover the fight against software piracy across Nigeria and to involve the Advance Fee Coalition" and Microsoft will finance the 1st West Africa Internet Fraud Summit to be hosted by the EFCC in November 2009.

In 2005, Nuhu Ribadu said that the EFCC had confiscated at least $100 million from spammers and other defendants and by the time he was 'temporarily removed' from his position in 2008, the EFCC had retrieved a total $600 million in dubiously acquired funds (including stolen public assets). In spite of this, and the fact that Microsoft has been an anti-cyber crime partner, Nigeria's reputation as a haven for scamers and fraudsters has barely improved.

And now, a new report indicates that Nigeria ranks 3rd on a top 10 list of the world's worst online crime countries. This begs the simple question - Why is Nigeria still ranked that high? Granted, in comparison to the top 2 countries on that list, Nigeria's statistical numbers are very small (USA (66%), UK (10%), Nigeria (7%)), but this suggests that more needs to be done to lessen the activities of cyber criminals and those who support their activities. There remains little information on the specifics of the agreement between Microsoft and Nigeria and also, there is scant information on particular achievements as a result of this partnership which is going on half a decade.

What are the precise benefits Nigeria has gained from partnering with Microsoft and how much do they equate to?

UPDATE: This issue has an added dimension. A review of a post from David Ajao's blog dated January 4th, 2006, indicates that Nigeria's numbers have increased instead of decreased given the collaboration with Microsoft.

Related Articles of Interest:
- Nigeria is Not The Home Of Cyber Crime
- Nigeria's Internet Future
- Number One Regional Telecom Market
- 2009: The Year of African Broadband
- Nigeria Is Home To The World's Largest Cyber Cafe

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Beauty said...

"The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has complained that one of its challenges is Nigeria's judicial system" is the blame culture that will keep Nigeria uncompetitive. Whose brilliant get rich quick idea was it to partner with a company found guilty of acting as a monopoly in the US & EU? Another US business partnership of equals in 50s CUBA is a case in point that resulted in a revolution. Viva Castro, shame he didn't know when to quit.

People blame the Nigerian 419ers (true Nigerians or not is irrelevant) but "Do We Really Need a Security Industry?" is a great education on a subject the whole planet is concerned with. Microsoft software is used for 419 and that is the issue since users simply expect their systems to protect them, never mind how.

All convicted fraudsters are simply opportunist thieves following in $1Tn cash trail as the so called cy-criminals continue to target everyone using flawed software. Things will improve when those representing the FGN stop looking to get rich quick via bringing in investors for a quick buck.

Adaeze said...

Just read some news yesterday interviewing Mrs Farida Waziri. She explained how they were going to invest into combatting cyber-crime. Not a single word on fighting government corruption. In my humble opinion I think they need to give that a 100% focus before even thinking about the cyber-crime. The cyber-crime is a MINOR problem compared to the other crap going on. Besides, since the 419's were brought into the light, it seems that many people now claim to be Nigerians while enganging in the so called cyber-crime. I don't think it should be so difficult to fight at all. It's just a matter of will and planning. The government leaders can't talk about cleaning this up before cleaning their own backyard.

LoloBloggs said...

I just read "I do not come to you by chance" by Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani. I'd recommend it, good insight on the life of a young man's journey into 419.

Agreement or no agreement Nigeria's reputation shows no sign of bearing down any time soon. Coming 3rd in the list of cyber-fraud with only 7% of all the activity is bad, but considering US had over 65% it could be worse.

Our reputation is bigger than the truth and is highly likely to outlast the reality.

webround said...

never knew that EFCC had an agreement with Microsoft and as you pointed out, nothing seemingly has been gained from this cos we still have a bad image.

i'd like to approach the issue of fighting cybercrime from a different perspective. for a long time, i've been wondering - what kind of people join EFCC? in the US, becoming an FBI agent is one of the most competitive things you can try to do and the FBI (CIA, NIA, etc) actively recruit from the ivy league schools. these government agencies recruit the best brains in the country. EFCC needs the best brains possible and expert [geeks] to be able to fight cybercrime but i very much doubt that they have it.

is EFCC making any investment in training in the area of computer/electronic fraud monitoring? paypal has a vast center on fraud and is continually developing software for it, same thing with the FBI. these two groups actively recruit students who are doing research in that area. what is EFCC doing? Apart from relying on tips from the populace, do they have other technologies that can help identify cyberfraud, or pinpoint locations of the internet cafes [or houses] where these mails are being sent from? i'm not advocating they should monitor people's mail but i'm just wondering if they have any technology [allowed within the law] that enables them fight cybercrime and if they have people who purposely chose to join efcc because they consider it an elite organization and not just those who joined it becos they couldn't find any other job.

Anonymous said...

Nigeria has been rated high,this is true bcos even in UK we are the
major players according to archive operating from this perspective.I
can remember even a very influential presenter in the US, Opera
understood the meaning of yahooze there by putting a damn on our
image.To me as an intellect who studied organised crime is making u
know that cyber crimes otherwise condemned by the western law is a
repercursion on their abuse of grace.Nigeria and africa has been under
threat since the colonial era which still makes us slaves
automatically.I think thatttt military president whose era the
organised cybercrime emerged in nigeria was a joker for our
discovery.I would not mention his name but to me i call him the
political croney close pal of africa not even only nigeria.
So bill gate,american government,and bill gate should respect our
tactics and never degrade us in any level of world contribution making
them know even EFCC'S eagle eye is too blurred to aim at its prey. WE


N.I.M.M.O said...

During the period that I actively researched this bogey called 'Nigerian Internet Scams', I made an interesting discovery: What we call '419' in Nigeria is NOT a cybercrime!

Its a crime alright but that initial offer could be done by snail mail as well as email, by phone or by fax. Besides, 98% of the actual crime is carried out offline.

Which is why I was a little worried when I read that Microsoft is partnering with Nigeria to fight cybercrime.

Pray how does Microsoft Windows Vista help you not to receive a spam mail in your Yahoo inbox? Or is Microsoft Defender that does it?

Talk of 419.

Well, I can only say kudos to the Marketing guys at Microsoft for being able to sell the bogey to the EFCC.

Naija people no dey carry last!

IT Jobs said...

There is one major way to tackle cyber crime in Nigeria: Fixing the economy, if the youths that engage in these activities have jobs, etc, it will shift their minds from such unscrupulous activities, corruption also has to be tackled in high places, let us start from the top, then the rest of the problems will resolve themselves accordingly

Arjun said...

Regardless of the outcome of the cyber crime addendum the core problem is the corruption in the government and the country will never recive the respect it deserves until that problem is addressed and it can only be addressed by the people of Nigeria. As long as you let the country be financially raped they will continue to do it...stand up for your country and put a stop to the corruption..

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