The Nigerian telecoms watchdog says it has suffered an identity theft attack on popular social media service, Facebook, raising the bar of high-profile cyber crime.

Facebook, the most popular social media service in Nigeria, has over 27 million users in the country and over 2.7 monthly active users across the world.

The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) says at the weekend says that it has for over one year now been the victim of identity theft that cloned the profile of the telecoms industry regulator to create a Facebook profile that has a growing fan base.

Technology Times file photo shows Professor Umaru Garba Danbatta, Executive Vice Chairman/CEO of NCC, speaking to Media Executives at a breakfast meeting in Lagos

Dr. Ikechukwu Adinde, Director, Public Affairs at NCC says in a statement made available to Technology Times that the public alert becomes necessary, especially to telecoms consumers because the “fraudulent and cloned Facebook profile account opened with a name similar to the Commission’s official name on the social media site.”

The NCC’s advisory comes as the agency’s chief calls for collective cybersecurity-consciousness among Nigeria’s connected community in the digital era.

Danbatta says that with internet users across mobile networks in Nigeria currently at 149.8 million as at August, 2020, more users are expected online as services in different sectors of the economy are becoming digitalised.

Meanwhile, commenting on the NCC cyberattack Adinde says that “upon detecting the fake Facebook account with the name “Nigeria Communication Commission Official Website”, the agency “deems it fit to inform members of the public that this account is fake and fraudulent.”

According to NCC findings, “the fake Facebook group account was created a year ago and has since amassed followership who, the Commission believes, must have inadvertently signed on to the site.”

NCC says it is “a typical case of profile cloning, which represents a severe security issue in social media networks. It is often used to create a fake profile identical to an original one, for the purpose of misleading the unsuspecting general public.”

He says that “for the avoidance of doubt, the official and authentic Facebook account of the Commission is: “Nigerian Communications Commission” with over 181,580 followers.”

According the telecoms regulator, “the Commission strongly advises Nigerian citizens and all telecom consumers to beware of this fraudulent Facebook account as the NCC has no affiliation with it.

It is what it is: A CLONED FACEBOOK ACCOUNT meant to deceive and defraud unsuspecting members of the public.”

Nigeria's telecoms watchdog hit by Facebook identity theft 1

Meanwhile, ahead of this year’s National Cyber Security Awareness Month (NCSAM), Prof. Umar Danbatta , the NCC Executive Vice Chairman (EVC) and Chief Executive Officer says the need to be cybersecurity-conscious to guarantee online safety for Internet users is everyone’s business and not reserved for a group of people.

The month of October every year is NCSAM, which is globally, aimed at raising awareness about cybersecurity, and to provide the public with general knowledge and tools required for online safety.

Danbatta says that with internet users across mobile networks in Nigeria currently at 149.8 million as at August, 2020, more users are expected online as services in different sectors of the economy are becoming digitalised.

Increase in digital financial transactions for e-commence activities now calls for greater responsibility on the part of individuals and corporate internet users to protect themselves against cybercrimes, Danbatta warns.

As NCC promotes various policy initiatives to drive pervasive broadband penetration to achieve increased digital inclusiveness, “it is not unmindful of those who use Internet to carry out nefarious and dubious activities in the cyberspace.”

“To keep the genuine individual and corporate Internet users safe, the NCC, as regulator of the telecom sector, annually joins the rest of the world to create a lot of enlightenment around cybercrime in the month of October every year. We ensure that consumers are empowered through awareness and sensitisation campaigns, by providing information on both the positive and negative potentials available online, and measures required to safeguard themselves and their loved ones,” the telecoms regulatory chief says.

“Security is not reserved for a group of people, it is truly everyone’s business; bringing competence and knowledge to help build a safer and more inclusive information society”, he adds noting that NCC will focus on policy initiatives to enhance online security, educate and equip the consumers of telecoms services with information they need to be protected online.

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