At the ongoing World Economic Summit meeting in Davos, business leaders expressed concern that geopolitical instability is exacerbating the risk of catastrophic cyberattacks.

In Nigeria, a complex mix of incompetent regulators, complicit bank officials, brain drain, and poor security practices leaves individuals and businesses vulnerable to cyberattacks.

According to the Global Cybersecurity Outlook 2023 report, launched Wednesday at the World Economic Forum (WEF) Annual Meeting 2023 in Davos, more than 93% of cybersecurity experts and 86% of business leaders surveyed believe that “a far-reaching and catastrophic cyber event is likely to occur within the next two years” and there is a critical skills gap that threatens societies and key infrastructure.

The report highlights the need to address the shortage of talent and qualified experts. Some 34 percent of cybersecurity experts said their team lacked some skills, and 14 percent said they lacked critical skills.

This situation reflects the challenge in Nigeria. Thousands of tech workers at banks have fled the country amid a rising crime and crime wave, the cost-of-living crisis and the government’s blatant incompetence to manage the economy.

Therefore, bank customers routinely wake up to fraudulent transactions in their accounts and their banks are unable to provide an explanation. Banks often disclaim responsibility by shifting the blame onto their customers.

Chiamaka Agim recently posted on social media a harrowing account of how N4 million was transferred from his account without his authorization. His bank instructed him to prove that he did not make the transfer and obtained a court order to recover the balance of N850,000 that they were able to save.

However, Nigerians have been forced to carry out all kinds of biometric registrations and bank customers have a unique bank verification number. Banks honor their customers’ KYC obligations, but at the first hint of a fraudulent transaction, they seem helpless. A message to the fraud unit at one of the banks about a suspicious transaction returns a computer-generated response that would be reviewed after 12 hours: 11.5 hours more than it takes a scammer to empty the victim’s account.

Bank employees collude with fraudsters by providing critical details needed to complete a transaction without the customer’s knowledge and when fraud occurs, bank management pretends this is not a possibility. Last year, a Lagos High Court sent Unyime Akinmade to prison for an alleged N16 million fraud.

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), which regulates the sector, offers little relief, because until a few days ago, its boss was more or less a fugitive from justice. While it pushes to deepen financial inclusion and force unbanked customers into the system, it is doing nothing to protect them against excessive bank charges or protect them against cyber fraud.

A victim has to spend hours and days proving that they did not steal from themselves, by writing to CBN and the consumer protection agency, and the perpetrator, even with the full record of transactions and their personal information available to regulators. , is often undisturbed. The structures put in place to protect privacy now seem to allow fraud.

A recent report from Kaspersky, a global cybersecurity and digital privacy company, said the number of Remote Desktop Protocol attacks increased by 89 percent to 303,500 attacks in the first four months of 2022 compared with 161,000 in the first four months of 2022. same period last year.

“With the shift to remote work and the introduction of many advanced technologies into the daily operations of even small businesses, security measures must evolve to support these sophisticated configurations,” said Denis Parinov, a security researcher at Kaspersky.

Parinov said that cybercriminals are already way ahead of the curve, so much so that virtually every organization will experience a breach attempt at some point.

“For today’s small businesses, it’s not a question of if a cybersecurity incident will occur, but when. Having trained staff and an educated IT specialist is no longer a luxury but an essential part of building your business.”

According to Opeke, CEO of Lagos business at Polaris Bank, in a speech at the 54th quarterly meeting of the Nigerian Bank Audit CEOs Association in Lagos last month, where he represented its director, he said that cyber risks pose a great threat. that affect the banking industry today.

The widespread adoption of technology has led to an increase in the sophistication and frequency of cyber incidents with cyber threats everywhere and constantly changing, making it seem in many cases almost impossible to prepare for all threats or keep up with best practices. in cybersecurity, he said.

“Cybersecurity risk is the true pandemic of modern times. It is ever present, increasing like a virus, and we cannot get vaccinated against it. The fact is that increasing connectivity results in greater security risks and hacks are becoming more frequent by a greater variety of actors,” he said.

Also Read: Small Businesses Worried About Cyber ​​Attacks Up 89% In 4 Months

Many people and business owners are often unaware of these risks. Some are careless with their card and banking information, some small businesses don’t invest in basic cybersecurity infrastructure, including antivirus protection for their computers. Staff members visit compromised sites and introduce malware into their networks.

The Global Cybersecurity Outlook 2023 report says that the cybersecurity talent pool needs to be expanded to solve this problem. Several successful cybersecurity skills programs are underway around the world, but many are having difficulty scaling to large numbers. Greater cross-industry and public-private collaboration is needed to overcome this, according to the report.

The report, written in collaboration with Accenture, says awareness and preparation will help organizations balance the value of new technology against the cyber risk it brings.

Geopolitics is reshaping the legal, regulatory and technological environment. “As global instability increases cyber risk, this report calls for a renewed focus on cooperation. All stakeholders from the public and private sectors who are responsible for our common digital infrastructure must work together to build security, resilience and trust,” said Jeremy Jurgens, Managing Director of WEF.

Cybersecurity is also influencing strategic business decisions, with 50 percent of participants in the Cybersecurity Outlook 2023 survey saying that cybersecurity was a consideration when evaluating which countries to invest in and do business in.