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Illegal SIM swaps, USSD top most serious cyber threats in telecom sector — NCC

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THE Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has raised concerns on the reoccurring use of illegal Subscriber Identification Module (SIM) swaps and Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD) to commit financial frauds in the country.

Adeleke Adewolu, Executive Commissioner, Stakeholder Management (ECSM) of the NCC said the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) had also acknowledged this threat, describing electronic fraud as the biggest risk in the financial sector.

According to information made available on the official website of NCC, the use of e-channels to conduct financial transactions has become the order of the day.

The Commission called for intensified regulatory efforts to protect the interests of telecoms consumers from the menace.

“Illegal Subscriber Identification Module (SIM) swaps and Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD) e-payment frauds, are currently some of the most serious cyber threat in the telecoms industry,” Adewolu said.

“Fraudsters conduct illegal SIM swap of targeted individuals and then, conduct USSD-based transactions which cost the victims huge losses.”

Speaking on the several tactics that fraudsters deploy, he shared insights that the telecoms sector is no longer immune to the scourge, as attackers now target telecoms networks with the intent to disrupt service delivery and infiltrate their data banks.

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In May 2017, Godwin Emefiele, the CBN Governor disclosed that the Nigerian banks lost N2.19 billion to fraudsters in 2016. The amount was credited to 19, 531 fraud cases as against 10, 743 reported cases in the preceding year.

Former Minister of Communications, Adebayo Shittu, in the same year also claimed that the country loses N127 billion annually to internet fraud.

Far worse is the report of how the Nigerian banks lost N12.06 billion in the first six month of 2018 to fraud.

However, Adewolu restated the commitment of the regulatory commission to deal with the menace.

He said the NCC has been working closely with other stakeholders to implement technical and operational solutions to preventing financial fraud using telecoms platforms.

“Just as we have demonstrated through ICAF, the NCC has embraced a multi-sectoral synergy to harmonise the activities of critical stakeholders responsible for combating financial fraud committed through telecoms platforms and we will continue to strengthen this,” Adewolu said.

Olugbenga is an Investigative Reporter with The ICIR. Email address: [email protected] Twitter handle: @OluAdanikin

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