The menace known as “cybercrime” has posed difficulties for scholars to arrive at a uniform and universal definition. Some of these scholars are comfortable in describing various elements constituting cybercrime than in defining it. However, various scholarly perceptions and definitions about this form of crime shall be explored.
According to Olowu (2009). cybercrime is a popular term describing the criminal activities related to cyberspace or the cyber world. Council of Europe (COE) (2001) asserted that cybercrime involves action directed against the confidentiality, integrity and availability of computer systems, networks and computer data as well as the misuse of such systems, networks and data.
In his own view, Casey (2004) defined cybercrime as any crime that involves computers and networks including crimes that do not rely heavily on computers. Karofi and Mwanza (2006) described cybercrime as criminal activity in which computers or networks are a tool, a target or a place of criminal activity. A new type of white collar crime facilitated by technological advance, i.e. a crime actualized through the platform of the internet.
More so, Obono (2008) defined cybercrime as those criminal acts either committed entirely in cyberspace such as various forms of identity theft and bank fraud, or acts that have a physical component and are simply facilitated through the use of Internet-based tools. Such acts commonly include distribution of fraudulent emails and child pornography on the internet, unauthorized access to computer files and theft proprietary information, distribution of information housed in a remote computer with viruses, Trojans, worms, logic bombs and distributed denial of service (DDOS) attacks, selling illegal objects and substances over the internet and the theft and forgery of identity. He further stated that cybercrimes are illegal activities perpetrated by one or more people using the cyberspace through the medium of networked computers, telephones, and other information and communication technology equipment.
Central to all these definitions is the view that crime is a criminal activity perpetrated with the aid of computer and internet service.
CATEGORIES OF CYBER CRIMES PERPETRATED IN NIGERIA
Longe and Chierneke (2006) identified the various categories through which cybercrimes are perpetrated in Nigeria. The most common ones are below discussed.
According to them, the hucksters are characterized by a slow turnaround from harvest to first message (typically at least 1 month), a large number of messages being sent to each harvested spam trapped addresses, and typical product based spam (i.e. spam selling an actual product to be shipped or downloaded even if the product itself is fraudulent.
The fraudsters are characterized by an almost immediate turnaround from harvest to first message (typically less than 12 hours), only a small number of messages are sent to each harvested addresses. Fraudsters often harvest address and send only a message to them all at a time. The major tool for getting addresses is the mailing address extractor.
Piracy involves the illegal reproduction and distribution of software applications, games, movies and audio CDs. This can be done in a number of ways. Usually, pirates buy or copy from the internet an original version of a software, movie or game and illegally make copies of the software available online for others to download and use without the notification of the original owner of the software. This is known as Internet piracy or Wares. Modern day piracy may be less dramatic or exciting but is far subtler and more extensive in terms of the monetary losses of the victim’s faces. They contend that this form of cybercrime may be the hardest of all to curb as the common man also seems to be benefiting from it.
Young Nigerians can be observed on daily basis engaging in brainstorming sessions at Cyber Café’s trying to crack security codes for e-commerce, ATM cards and e-marketing product sites. The surprising thing is that even with their low level of education or understanding of the intricacies of computing techniques, they get results.
CONSEQUENCES OF CYBERCRIME ON YOUTH DEVELOPMENT IN NIGERIA
Obono (2008) and Ribadu (2007) have expressed their dissatisfaction about the continuous spread of this crime in the country. They further explained the consequences of this crime on youth development and national development as a whole. These consequences are below listed;
- Perpetration of cybercrimes among young people in schools, both secondary and tertiary destroys their quest for proper education. This is because of most of them drop out of school in the long run and face the yahoo-yahoo business. The long-run effect of this on our society would be lack of professionals in the field of medicine, engineering, law etc because those who are supposed to be studying in these fields of endeavour are presently wallowing in yahooism.
- It destroys young people’s quest for adequate skill acquisition and vocational training which is supposed to grow into Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (SMEs) and boost our Gross Domestic Products (GDP) for economic growth and development.
- With the high level of cybercrime among young people in Nigeria, the crime does not equip young people with the right leadership skills required to transform our nation or even an enterprise. Therefore, this generation of leaders would be worse than any of the past corrupt and government administration in Nigeria.
- Cybercriminals are exposed to sudden death through reckless lifestyles.
- As time goes on and cybercriminals progress in their criminal activities, they would lose faith in legitimate businesses since the financial rewards of cybercrimes may not be compared with that of legitimate businesses. This would mean a collapsing economy.
- It produces a dangerous generation of corrupt people who would continue to abuse due process and rule of law in Nigeria.
- It increases criminal cartels, cultism, and secret societies that would eventually lead a violent economy in the nearest future, especially when they control the polity and policy-making process.
In his own words, Ribadu (2007) noted that the implications of cybercrime for the national economy as well as for international trade are enormous. Between 2003 and 2007, transactions worth 300rnillion, 200million, and $500rnillion were successfully disrupted and blocked by EFCC. In the same vein, he explained that they have successfully prosecuted 97 cybercrime specific offences. He further explained that its implication is that it is leading to the erosion of confidence in genuine Nigerian Commercial credibility and today, many western countries with France taking the lead have moved to deny Nigerian businessmen and women who are legitimate the rewards of commerce. France today requires web camera verification for most online business transactions from Nigeria.
YOUTHS AND INTERNET FRAUD IN NIGERIA
It would be inappropriate to describe youths in Nigeria on chronological age because of the multiplicity of opinion on this, issue. Meanwhile, the social Development policy for Nigeria (1980) defines youths as those between ages 12 and 30 years. For the purpose of this study, the term “youths” will simply refer to adolescents and young adults.
However, the divergence with respect to the age of the youths does not manifest in the description of their characteristics. The Nigerian youths are noted for being idealistic, adventurous, resourceful, inquisitive and proactive (Adelerno, 1999). In the face of proper motivation, the Nigerian youth is prepared to contribute to the development of the nation(Mabogunje, 1998). To Adeniyi (1999), since the youths are taken as the foundation for the future growth and sustainable development of a nation, they are the key agents for social change, economic development and technological innovations. Hence, the failure of leadership at all levels in Nigeria to promote positive values for the youths has often translated into social incongruence.
Every society has norms that define acceptable behaviour and agents of socialization socially transmit such norms. Ninalowo (2004) opines that in societies such as Nigeria with gross structural inequalities, weak sanctioning system arid wide gap between the “haves” and the “have-nots”, there is a tendency for the deprived to reject rules and embrace illegal means of achieving culturally prescribed goals. The involvement of youths in Nigeria in online fraudulent practices cannot be separated from the value that the society places on wealth accumulation. Just recently, a new generation bank operating in Nigeria handed over two secondary school leavers, whose bank accounts were found to contain l8.7million to the operatives of EFCC (www.efccnigeria.org). The youths. who confessed to being unemployed, said they got the money through the internet. This is just a reflection of the kind of youths the society would be breeding if moral decadence, such nefarious utilization of the internet platforms, continues to hold sway in the country.
FACTORS INFLUENCING THE GROWTH OF CYBERCRIME IN NIGERIA
Lack of security awareness programmes or specialized training for the law enforcement agencies
Many online users are becoming victims of cybercrime attacks and the incidence of successful attacks is increasing with impurity. Poor security awareness means that investments to fight cybercrimes are minimal, leaving business across Africa vulnerable to cybercrimes or online attacks. The Nigerian Government is in dire need of strong ICT security awareness training, targeting native speakers to educate users, employers and law enforcers to understand the risks and prevent attacks. it is not therefore hard to see that cybercrimes are increasing in the region due to the growth of cyber base with poor security awareness and lack of adequate regulations. This is evident in Nigeria as it is ranked as the leading state in the region as the target and source of malicious internet activities.
Hales (2002) asserted that globally, only about 10% of all cybercrimes committed are actually reported and fewer than 2% result in a conviction. Against the backdrop of ill-trained police and security agents and in the absence of cybercrime records, one can only conjecture that the statistics of reporting and conviction will inevitably be lower for Africa (Ojedokun, 2005).
The growth of International banking and money laundering
The unique opportunities of a quickly developed financial infrastructure allowing ‘anyone to transfer monetary fund to any state, anonymously and through tangled routes have caught the attention of cybercriminals. Electronic transfers are an efficient tool for concealing sources of money intakes and laundering illegally earned money. There are many cases of well-known online money laundering involving victims in Nigeria who were tricked in order to steal their identity or transfer money from their real accounts using phishing and scams. (Ojedokun, 2005).
Cybercriminals also attack popular sites in the region like many social networking websites. Many corporate employees and home-based internet users are into social networks. Studies revealed that social networking can open a backdoor into corporate ICT platforms, putting businesses and individuals at risk of information compromise, identity theft and other malicious attacks. Cybercriminals are looking for sites that have many users with poor security awareness to infect and social networking sites are an excellent place to hunt (Bazelon, Choi and Conaty, 2006).
Nigeria is contending with high unemployment problems. The numbers are increasing daily and will promote the growth of cybercrimes in the country, if not comprehensively addressed. Statistics revealed that the unemployment rate is very high among youths in the region, most of whom are university graduates with computer and internet competency. Even if they do not have access to the internet at home, cybercafes are readily available throughout the country at an affordable rate for internet access. All these factors combine to create a new generation of local hackers and cybercriminals. Most of these people are script kiddies working for financial motives. They do not have deep programming knowledge like experienced hackers who can create their own malware or viruses, but they take advantage of many websites available for free that help them understand the basics behind hacking techniques with links to underground hacking sites and even free tools to use.
Lack of internet-specific laws
This gives room for perpetrators of these crimes to freely perpetrate their criminal acts. The Nigerian computer security and Critical Information Infrastructure Protection Bill submitted to the country’s National Assembly in 2005 has stagnated ever since.
- Adewumi. S.E (2008). Safe Nigeria: An agenda for reducing internet scam experiences.
- Ajayi, V (2009). Cybercriine in Nigeria: A sociological Analysis.
- Awe J (2008). Fighting cybercrime. Paper presented on Information Technology Intelligence.
- Casey, E (2004). Digital Evidence and computer crime. St. Louis, MO: Elsevier Press Council of Europe Convention on cybercrime. 2001
- Karofi, U.A and Mwanza, J. (2006). Globalization and crime. Bangladesh e-Journal of sociology.
- Longe, O.B and Chierneke, S.C (2006). Cybercrime and criminality in Nigeria-What roles are Internet Access Points Playing? European Journal Of Social Sciences Volume 6. No 4.
- Michael Hughes. et al (2002).Sociology: the Core. McGraw-Hill publisher.
- Obono, M (2008). Youth Against Cybercrime and Fraud in Nigeria. A Paper presentation at Cleen Foundation’s Youth against crime quarterly interactive forum in Bola Ige Millennium Secondary School Ajegunle. Lagos State.
- Olowu, D (2009). Cybercrime and the Boundaries of Domestic Legal Responses. Case for Inclusionary Framework for Africa. South Africa, JILT.
- Ribadu, N (2007). Cybercrime and Commercial Fraud: A Nigerian Perspective. A paper presentation at a congress to celebrate the fortieth annual session of UNCITRAL, Vienna.