The duo of Dr Adewale Obadare (Chief Operating Officer) and Dr Oluseyi Akindeinde (Chief Technology Officer) of Digital Encode, in this interview, spoke about a myriad of issues especially concerning cybercrime law. Excerpts.
How can the federal government strengthen existing cyber laws?
Dr Obadare – As a company, we have created institutional awareness for the Nigerian environment in the past years. There is a proliferation of the internet. The next buzz is digitization and automation. Many people and businesses are embracing the digital space. This will attract cybersecurity challenges. Technology enables every aspect of our life. As you leverage the power of technology, it comes with risks. You need safety measures when using technology.
The internet is a public place. Protect yourself. Install antivirus in your gadgets. Install a licensed antivirus to protect those gadgets. Do not install antivirus downloaded from the internet. A licensed antivirus will protect your gadgets. Cybersecurity is a big subject. It can be seen from different perspectives. It affects an individual, a business and the nation. On an individual level, protect your internet protocol.
In terms of technology, there are specifics. A verified account does not mean it is authenticated. The verification means it is Barack Obama’s account. It is his identification. This is different from authentication. Beyond identifying yourself, without a verified account, you need a two-fact-authentication. It is something you know, something that you have and something you have had together.
You have a password. You have a token. They are on all social media accounts. Build immunity around yourself in the public space. If you are working from home because of the Covid-19, work through the Virtual Private Network. These are technical controls that are part of cyber hygiene. Nobody can stop cybercrime. It’s an exercise in futility to think that you can stop cybercrime. There is a report that says that by 2025, the industry will be between $5 trillion.
The hackers know where the money is. What happened in Dubai concerning Hushpuppy is an example. The youth now have a sense of entitlement. They do not believe in the concept of hard work. What to do is to create measures and controls to curb cybercrime.
Before now, Nigeria had no cyber law. But now we have a cyber-law. There is a need for massive capacity development among the lawyers and judges. If a scammer steals $40 million a judge sentences him to a-three month imprisonment, it motivates the youth to commit worse cyber-crime. The judges need to consider the impact of the cyber-crime. People are dying because they have been fleeced. Cybercrime is a matter of life and death. We need to enforce the law. To enforce the law, enforcement agents need more training and capacity building on cybercrime.
Blockchain technology has become a buzzword. Please shed light on this technology
Dr Akindeinde – Blockchain technology has not been adopted because people don’t understand it. It’s not a virtual currency. It is not a cryptocurrency. It is analogous to the internet. At the advent of the internet, people did not understand it. Even till now some people still don’t understand what the internet does. The man who built the Blockchain knew it would not work unless he layers something else on it. That is the reason we have cryptocurrency. That’s the first application on the Blockchain.
In technology, there is what is called infrastructure inversion. On the road, you think about bridges and other structures. With the blockchain technology, you can do business with anybody. But you cannot experience hacking. The major problem around Blockchain is awareness and knowledge gap.
Blockchain will take businesses away. Before, we used to buy a CD; not anymore. The same thing will happen. People are running from the adoption of the blockchain because they think it will take away their jobs. During this pandemic, MasterCard, PayPal, Visa and Microsoft are now enabling Blockchain technology because you cannot argue with a fact. You can only argue with beliefs and opinions.
Nigerian institutions should first disrupt themselves. There are some Nigerian banks that are still thinking about blockchain technology. Even the Central Bank of Nigeria [CBN] has not taken a decision on it. When the internet came to Nigeria, it took many companies time before they plugged into it. They wondered why they place their server on the internet. But it is not about placing your server on the internet. It is about placing your business on the internet.
Technology will make you money. It will save you money. It will give you a competitive advantage. If it is not doing any of those things, you can’t call it technology. How can you detect a drug is fake? If it has the National Agency for Food, Drug, Administration and Control [NAFDAC] number on its package. But NAFDAC, as an organisation, can adopt technology, which the drug manufacturers would adopt.
Conducting an internet banking transaction is like sending an email. You have not moved value. You have only sent a message. Mobile banking is like a messaging system just like an email. An email can boomerang. Also, banking transactions can fail. That is why when the protocol of the Nigerian Inter-Bank Settlement System [NIBSS] is down, you cannot activate any transaction because you are not moving value; you are pushing messages. So, the financial system is a messaging system, whether it is a switch, MasterCard or visa.
But when you use the blockchain, do you know what it means to move a virtual asset that leaves your phone? If I take your picture and send it to your phone, I will still have that picture on my phone. If I send music to you, I will still have a file copy of the music on my phone. But it is not like that for money.
Someone created a virtual technology where value can be moved. If you think about technology, you would find a use for blockchain technology. We engage in knowledge sharing and awareness sessions for clients. We can also use it to vote during an election. But such things can never fly in Nigeria because it cannot be rigged. Even the person who set it up doesn’t have the final say on the system.