While the Safer Internet Day was celebrated in Lagos by the Center for Cyber Awareness and Development (CECAD), the need to ensure that this campaign is beneficial to all Nigerians has prompted CECAD to initiate a nation-wide outreach.
Speaking at the Cyber Security Awareness Forum, organized by CECAD, the Nigeria Internet Registration Association (NIRA) and the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) to commemorate the 2018 World Safer Internet Day, Executive Director of CECAD, Dr. Bayero Agabi noted that there is a lot to be done to sensitize Nigerians about the gains and pains of the Internet resource.
Agabi spoke on the dangers of uncontrolled internet access for children as enormous just as the benefits are huge. He highlighted cyber bullying and unrestricted access to pornographic sites as such negative outcome of uncontrolled internet access.
“The Internet as a wonderful resource for children can be used for research works, communicate with teachers and other children and play interactive games,” he encouraged. Agabi further noted that the average age of a child’s pornographic exposure is 11, with as much as 90 percent of children between 8-16 years of age having viewd online pornography as pornographers use many character names that appeal to children to lure them into such sites.
He warned parents to be cyber-aware and monitor what their children and wards view online.
Agabi further noted that the vulnerability of children in the cyberspace gave rise to the issue of Child Online Protection Act that is currently being pushed in Nigeria. “Protecting children online is a global challenge which requires global approach that will help reduce child access to materials that are harmful to them on the internet.”
Echoing that view, Chief Executive Officer of Medallion Communications Limited, Mr. Ikechukwu Nnamani, advised individuals to take some simple but necessary steps that will help people stay safe and secure while surfing the web whether on a personal computer, tablet or smartphone. He listed some of the steps to include using a long, unique password made up of numbers, letters and symbols on all devices and accounts.
Other steps, according to him, include not sending passwords via email, not using free Wifi and setting up password recovery options and keeping them up-to-date and reporting or flagging of content that is abusive or illegal.
President of the Nigeria Internet Registration Association (NIRA), Mr. Sunday Folayan, advised that “Nigerians should learn to display hygiene using the Internet, even though it has today become the youngest but biggest planet with unlimited opportunities.”
“The Internet is a tool that has helped to expand our horizons, but my advice would be that Nigerians should be mindful of what they post online because whatever is put in the online space remains there forever and could come back to haunt you,” he said.
Also speaking the Executive Vice Chairman/ Chief Executive Officer of the NCC, Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta, who was represented by the Commission’s Director, New Media and Information Security, Harun Alhassan, said the Commission will continue to work with relevant stakeholders to ensure that the internet is safe for children and youth across the country.
According to him, children and young people need to be aware of the risks online and possible harmful activities of nefarious groups, adding that NCC’s Computer Security Incident Response Team (CSIRT) is collaborating with the ITU and relevant security bodies, both within and outside the country, in tackling issues that relate to the fight against cybercrime.
Nnamani had suggested that the NCC should create a Cyber Security session at the monthly Telecom Consumer Parliament (TCP) forum as a means of creating awareness on cyber security issues in Nigeria.
“While awareness is important, I also believe that the government should work closely with the owners of social media platforms to be able to curb some of the excesses emanating from the use of social media,” he advised.
Agabi promised to discuss with relevant stakeholders to find a means of extending the campaign to other states of the federation as the rural public are more vulnerable to cyber fraud and attacks especially in their use of mobile internet banking and transactions.
The World Safer Internet Day seeks to showcase the inherent benefits and dangers of the Internet and how to stay safe on the Internet. This year’s theme is ‘Create, connect and share respect: A better internet starts with you’.