NCC seek measures against telecom linked financial frauds

Danbatta NCC

The Nigerian Communications Commission NCC has called for more stringent measures to curb the rising incidents of Telecom related financial fraud and directed Telecom operators to invest in robust infrastructure, employ state-of-the-art security measures, and conduct regular audits to identify vulnerabilities and address them promptly.

Speaking at the second quarter of the NCC , Industry Consumer Advisory Forum, ICAF held in Lagos, the Executive Vice Chairman of the NCC said Nigeria has witnessed remarkable growth in the digital economy, revolutionizing the way transactions are done and conduct of businesses and the telecom sector plays a pivotal role in enabling this digital transformatiion . however, these advancements came with new challenges, one of which is the rising tide of e-fraud and cybersecurity concerns.

Professor Danbatta said the NCC as the regulator of the communications sector has a crucial role to play in combatting e-fraud and must establish comprehensive legal frameworks and standards that mandate sound security practices for telecom operators, pointing out that the legal framework must focus on data protection, privacy and incident response, ensuring that operators are held accountable for any lapses in security on their respective networks.

To address concerns about personal data protection, Professor. Danbatta highlighted the importance of Nigeria’s National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy 2020 – 2030 (NDEPS). Pillar #6 of the NDEPS, which focuses on soft infrastructure, addresses cybersecurity standards, frameworks, and guidelines.

He explained that the recently enacted Nigeria Data Protection Act 2023 provides a legal framework for personal information protection, regulating its processing and the commission is also developing comprehensive Data Protection Regulations specific to the communications sector.

Professor Danbatta stressed the significance of collaboration among law enforcement agencies, telecom operators, and regulatory bodies to investigate and prosecute e-fraud perpetrators.
He listed enhanced coordination, information sharing, and dedicated cybercrime units as effective deterrents against cyber criminals.

Professor Danbatta said the NCC through its Consumer Affairs Bureau (CAB), has been actively engaged in protecting, informing, and educating telecom consumers and the NCC’s Computer Security Incident Response Team (NCC-CSIRT) provides timely advisories on cybersecurity threats, equipping consumers with the knowledge to avoid falling victim to cyber-attacks.

The EVC encouraged telecom operators to educate their customers, promptly address concerns, and emphasize transparency and accountability in their security measures and incident response mechanisms.
Earlier in an opening remark, the Chairman of ICAF Maxi Emeka Akpa said the evolution of fraud threats has undermined the effectiveness of a reactive approach to combating fraud, which essentially focuses on stopping schemes one by one through manual reviews.
Pointing out that the 2023 2nd quarter open forum of the Industry Consumer Advisory Forum (ICAF) with the theme ”Combating E-fraud on Telecom Platforms and building consumer confidence in the digital economy” decided to bring this issue to bear as it affects consumers a great deal hence the need to propose a new approach on Combatting E-Fraud.

The lead presenter, Non-Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer, FutureSoft, Nkemdilim Uwaje-Begho, said key challenges of eFraud, include evolving threat landscape; increased risk; lack of awareness; lack of collaboration and limited regulations.

Uwaje-Begho said to mitigate the threats, there was need to build consumer confidence in the digital economy; regulators must implement policies that facilitate collaboration; establishment of formal mechanism for information sharing; encouraging public-private partnerships within the telecoms industry as well as cross-sector to leverage expertise.

According to her, international cooperation and information sharing among countries can help curb eFraud; telecoms operators should implement multi-layered security measures; regular security audits, vulnerability assessments and timely software upgrades. She advised that there should be collaboration with cybersecurity experts and law enforcement agencies, saying that this can help curb eFraud.

E-fraud encompasses a wide range of malicious activities carried out via electronic means, including identity theft, phishing, hacking, and unauthorized access to personal and financial information, with the intention to defraud or take advantage of victims.
These criminal activities may not only cause significant financial losses but also erode consumer trust in the digital ecosystem.