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Expert warns Nigerian banks against cyber terrorism

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Nigerian banks and financial institutions have been warned against threats of cyber terrorism which can compromise national security.

A United States-based security expert, Mr. Bob Inyang who gave the warning told Vanguard that Cyber terrorism “consists of using information technology to hack into database of banks and financial institutions which could wreck  economy of the country.

Inyang said: “Nigeria should be concerned of this threat because of renewed upsurge in hacking into personal computers and electronic mail accounts, using it to defraud friends and relatives”.

The threat of cyber terrorism is a new trend which has forced the United States to approve $130billion to fight it, as well as, hacking and identity theft. The use of the credit card and account details of other people to commit acts that create psychological trauma has been added into the list of acts of terrorism.

Informed security sources told Vanguard that cyber-terrorism “is a serious threat to Nigeria’s financial assets: savings and investments that must be treated as a critical component of national security. Recall that when the financial system of Iceland collapsed in 2008, its economy went down.

We are in a country where a group of unemployed youths have taken to hacking of data and private information of people with the goal of perpetuating what we call cyber terrorism, Nigeria’s financial system is vulnerable to financial terrorism from within and outside.

“It is therefore important to treat this as a vital component of national security. This means that banks and financial institutions must be exposed to both physical security and soft security orientations in their daily operations”.

This came as the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission EFCC said that it has received reports of the use of people trying to use electronic means divert public funds, perpetuate forgery and fraud.

A Mass communications Lecturer at Covenant University Ota told Vanguard that his computer system was hacked into by an unknown person who used his email to send out mails requesting for the sum of N350,000 as financial assistance, another lecturer who is in University of Calabar complained that hackers breached his system and sent mails requesting for 15,000 euros to enable him return to Nigeria from Spain where he was stranded having lost his money and travel documents to hoodlums who attacked him and made away with his money, in both cases it turned out to be false claims that was being sent out by fraudsters.

Another prospective victim of the hackers who works with Akwa Ibom State government was purported to be in South Africa where he sent email to his friends and relations to send the sum of N300,000 to his wife foot the medical bill of his daughter, again it turned out that it was the handiwork hackers. The prospective victims said they suspected scam and called for confirmation of the content of the emails only to discover that it was the handiwork of crooks.

Vanguard learnt that the issue of identity theft has become a crucial aspect of the global terrorist strategy as people steal the travel documents and impose the photograph of other people to gain entry into other countries are now treated as potential terrorist. Consequently, the use of fake visa and forged documents to travel is seen as attempt by people with negative motives to enter into foreign countries especially those facing threats of terrorist attacks.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission confirmed that in the past three week it has been receiving increasing complains from bank customers of possible breach of their account details by Bank workers The Anti-graft agency, said it has arraigned one Mr. Cornelius Ochi, a bank manager on a four-count charge bordering on diversion of public fund, forgery and attempt to launder proceeds of illegal loans and abuse of office.

According to EFCC, the accused person, Ochi, who was arraigned before Federal High Court sitting in Enugu. The former acting manager with a new generation bank hails from Udi Local Government Area of Enugu State. Ochi was alleged among other accusations to have illegally given out loans to some beneficiaries by diverting money from customers’ accounts without their authorization.

According to the EFCC, investigations revealed that during his tenure as the acting manager of the bank, he dipped his hands into the account of customers which was funded to the tune of N10, 832,015.00 (Ten Million Eight Hundred And Thirty-Two Thousand Naira) to grant an illegal loan of N9, 500,000.00 (Nine Million Five Hundred Thousand Naira)  to companies without the consent of the account owner.

EFCC sources said Investigations further revealed that following the success recorded in the first fraudulent loan advancement, Ochi again, without the consent of another customer N10, 500,000.00 (Ten Million Five Hundred Thousand Naira) which he loaned to another company.

The anti graft agency said its findings revealed that Ochi forged consent letters of the account owners with which he facilitated the loans to the two companies. The accused person, Mr. Ochi however pleaded not guilty and was granted bail in the sum of one million naira with one surety who must be a Bank Manager or a civil servant of not less than level 16 or Deputy Director or a renowned businessman. The case was adjourned to the 17th of October 2011 for ruling on the bail application.

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