By Etuka Sunday
The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) yesterday took an enlightenment against cybercrime to Mokwa Local Government Area of Niger State where it sensitised telecommunication consumers in the state on the role they needed to play in order to protect themselves against rising wave of the scourge.
At the 26th edition of the Consumer Town Hall Meeting (CTM) held in the state with the theme: ‘Mitigating Effects of Cybercrimes: The Role of Telecom Consumers”, Commission enlightened the consumers on the threats of cybercrime, it various forms and measures required of to be protected from cybercriminals and hackers.
Speaking at the event, the Director, Consumer Affairs Bureau, Mrs. Felicia Onwuegbuchulam, said that as broadband penetration gets deeper for the promotion of positive engagements and efficient economic activities, the tendency for some Internet users to use such access for criminal and illegal activities is also on the rise, thereby requiring adequate consumer education.
Represented by the Head, Government & Legislative Unit of Public Affairs Department at the Commission, Alh. Bashir Idris, Onwuegbuchulam said stated thatwithout individual and corporate consumers of telecoms services becoming aware of cybercrime trends and forms, as well as making conscious efforts to ensure safe use of connected devices, cybercriminals will continue to make cyberspace unsafe.
According to her, businesses and individuals in every country currently rely on Information and Communication Technology (ICT) for their day-to-day activities, where Internet is playing a key role in interconnectivity of devices.
“It is a common knowledge that the use of Internet has become part of telecom consumer’s daily activities whether at home, in the workplace or any social settings. Smartphones and other smart devices used by telecom consumers are a storehouse of data carrying sensitive information about the telecoms consumers, his or her family, businesses, associates and daily interactions as well as financial transactions details. Admittedly, the Internet touches almost all aspects of our lives as telecom consumers,” she said.
She further note that as the Commission embarks on various initiatives to increase access to the Internet for Nigerians for positive engagements, hackers and cybercriminals also deploy sophisticated systems to intrude into your connected devices as telecoms consumers to perpetrate their exploitation schemes.
However, the Commission’s chief consumer protector, stated that continuous consumer education and awareness remain one of the most effective ways to protect telecom consumers.
“Hence, the Commission is committed to using its various outreach programmes to embark on series of awareness campaigns with a view to keeping consumers well informed on the risks associated with being online, enlightening them on safety measures to be taken once they use connected devices as simple as feature phone, smartphones and other more sophisticated Internet-enabled devices,” she added.
Earlier in his welcome address, Head, Information & Reference Unit, Consumer Affairs Bureau at NCC, Alh. Ismail Adedigba, said the Commission was in the process of establishing an Internet Industry Code of Practice, whose object is to come up with robust framework to sanitise the cyber space for telecom consumers.
Representative of a consumer advocacy group, Wheel of Hope, Mr. Jibe Abdul-Aziz in his lead paper, enlightened consumers on forms of cybercrime such as phishing scams, online scams, hacking, malware, child soliciting & abuse and identity theft, among others while educating them on safety tips.
According to Abdul-Aziz, the safety measures needed to be taken by the consumers but not limited to, outright deleting of suspicious scam emails or text messages, using strong passwords, using trusted software and keeping it updated, talking to children about the internet fraud, reporting cases of lost Subscriber Identity Module (SIM) card to service providers and respective banks, among others.
Representatives of telecoms operators also took time to enlighten their consumers on efforts being made by them and role expected of the consumers to play to be safe when online on their various networks.
However, the Commission educated consumers on other Consumer-centric industry issues such as the NCC toll-free line -622, Do-Not-Disturb (DND) 2442 Code, consumer complaints management, base stations and health concerns, pre-registered SIMs, Mobile Number Portability (MNP), among others.