Sitting behind my laptop trying to finish up a document for the office, my attention was drawn to my tablet by a beep. As I checked, I realized that I had received a notification from Yahoo as follows:
We noticed a suspicious Attempt to your Yahoo account from an unrecognized device on:
Monday 22, September 2014
IP Address: 188.8.131.52
Location: London, U.K
Your email account has been logged in on another computer. Your email will be blocked within Hours if you don’t verify your account.
You are required to verify your password to continue sending and receiving messages.
If this wasn’t you, please follow the links below to keep your Yahoo account safe
Not wanting to lose my account, I quickly followed the links and confirmed the email’s continued existence with my address and password afterwhich Yahoo thanked me for completing the process.
Sometime in the evening, I got a rude shock when I received two successive e-mails from Yahoo as follows:
On Mon, 22 Sep 2014 20:17 GMT+1, we noticed an attempt to sign in to your Yahoo account eattasonnofrom an unrecognised device in Nigeria.
If this was you, please sign in from the device you usually use.
If you haven’t recently signed in from an unrecognised device and believe that someone may have accessed your account, please visit this linkto change your password and update your account recovery information.
Thanks for taking these additional steps to keep your account safe.
I got very alarmed and did a quick check on the earlier notification comparing it with the second, only to realize that the first was apparently a message sent from a cloned Yahoo website. I then followed the Yahoo warning and did the change of password.
As I pondered over the matter and thinking through how many persons of my kind had had this kind of fraud perpetuated on them. Observing closely now, I realized that someone in Nigeria was behind my early morning trick which led me into supplying my e-mailing details which he had later in the day tried to use. But for the vigilance of the Yahoo team, that fraudster would have been using my emails and contact directory for criminal activities.
A few years ago, technology fraud had to do with the breaking of access codes and thereby withdrawing monies from accounts via the ATM. Indeed, a few months ago, there was a news story of unscrupulous persons fixing hidden cameras that film ATM cash withdrawals over a period. These persons later used the videos to learn of bank customer passwords which they use to withdraw various sums of monies from those accounts. Now, they have moved on…..
Just two weeks ago, during a discussion with a Nigeria friend, I was surprised when he boasted that inspite of all the security features of Apple products, there were ways in Nigeria by which some components in the I-pads and phones were replaced thus breaking communication with Apple and allowing their usage. Rather than developing their own technologies, most of our young brothers and sometimes sisters rather spend their time breaking codes of SIM cards, mobile phones, ATM dispensing points, car ignition codes, etc.
A few weeks ago, there was a news item of some young persons who had been arrested for SIM box fraud. Operating with small devices from their bedrooms, they had managed to use the technology to by-pass international phone calls thus depriving the telecoms concerned millions of United States Dollars. At the time of their arrest, hundreds of local telecom SIM cards were found on them.
My dear friend, if young people can be imbued with such IT skills and talents, why don’t they utilize it for the good of society instead of using it to enrich themselves and their selfish interests. If only young people who spend long hours behind computers in the internet cafes would channel those ingenuity into inventions, only God knows how much development our country would see.
Currently, Ghana is reported to be gaining notoriety for Cyber-crime. It is ranked second in Africa and seventh in the world in cyber-crime or internet crime ranging from hacking of official websites to using the web to solicit young Ghanaian girls for sexual exploitation abroad.
According to the Ministry of Communication, about eighty-two (82) cyber-crimes occur in Ghana every month and that is averagely one thousand (1,000) crimes a year. Note that these are the reported crimes only.
Quite unfortunately, beyond warning the public to be extra vigilant in the wake of the increase in cyber crimes, our state actors appear to be doing very little to protect its citizenry.
It is however refreshing that the CID of the Police Service has in the last year established a modern forensic laboratory for training detectives in cyber crime has been set up.
It is about time that our state actors found innovative ways to attract such IT geniuses and pooling them together into groups capitalized well to channel their abilities towards inventions that will accelerate the development agenda of our country.
The world is not getting any more conservative. Use of technology and its attendant challenges such as internet-driven fraud and scams are sure to abound with time. Our leaders will therefore have to be proactive in putting in place the appropriate legislative framework to ensure that all such activities are adequately regulated. Again the fines and jail terms stipulated for such unauthorized activities will have to be commensurate and punitive enough. It is necessary that a multi-stakeholder effort and appropriate technical training for the Police recruited into its Cyber-Crime and Anti-Fraud Unit are made to receive continuous on-the-job training in new techniques. For online financial transactions, efforts at developing strategies need to incorporate offline business qualification requirements for starters. Since those involved in these crimes are mainly the youths with some degree of technical competence there is the need for government to institute appropriate youth development programmes to channel these technical competencies into productive ventures.
The fact that God has endowed us with the needed intellect is not in doubt but to what extent, we use that to advance our cause is the challenge. Who is listening?
My dear friend,