The Nigeria Deposit Insurance Commission, NDIC has advised Nigerians not to download any application demanding to have access to the contact information, pictures and Short Message Service, SMS on their phones before they could have access to the application warning that it could pose a big threat as well as higher security risk to them.
The Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, NDIC, Bello Hassan who gave this counsel while addressing participants at the Finance and Business Online Publishers, FiBOP 2023 Conference in Lagos last weekend with the theme, “Mitigating Risk And Insecurity Using Insurance and Technology In A Harsh Economy”, advised the public not to grant such request from the App owners as it could be inimical to their security and privacy.
Represented by the Head, Media Relations, NDIC, Hawwau Gambo, the NDIC boss said, “My colleague told us about applications that you can download from the Playstore where you can receive digital payment services. Some of these Apps are actually illegal and what they do is, as soon as you download it, before it will give you access to that App, it will tell you, please, allow us to have access to your contacts, photos and sms. So, you download it and automatically, at the back end, they have all your information: your text messages, your photographs, everything.
“So, as soon as they hook you in and give you that line of credit of whether N20,000 or N100,000 and you don’t meet up by the next week when you are supposed to pay a hundred and twenty thousand naira, they automatically send those messages to those contacts with your picture.
“This is a problem not only in Nigeria, it’s international. Very recently, there was an investigative report done by the BBC about a very notorious Indian company that has been terrorizing people, many people committed suicide and what they even actually did was that they will take your face and photoshop it into a nude and naked body for some kind of pornographic film and send it to your contacts, to your parents, your wife, your children. So, this is a very terribly disruptive issue.
“I know that there has been a movement now to get Google and Apple and so on to take responsibility to be more vigilant and have more regulations in the kinds of Apps they allow on their platforms.”
He maintained that collaboration and information sharing was key and extremely important not only on the regulators’ side but also in terms of extensive reportage by the media to raise awareness and prompt the regulators to act and map out their strategies for concrete intervention.
His words, “You people have so much power to bring out some of these stories and even hold us accountable actually. It also wakes us up and by getting those stories out there, you also sensitize the general public because the problem with this kind of thing is that the person is suffering alone, they will be too ashamed to come out to say, oh! this is it or they send a nude picture of you to your husband and there is crisis and you are completely by yourself.
“But once that story comes out on any of your platforms and says this is what happened, there’s some bits of safety nets and then, the discussion starts. The regulators will start seeing the extent this is happening and then, from that public discourse, we start to take action and map out strategies for concrete intervention.”
Also speaking, the Managing Director of the CRC Credit Bureau, Dr. Tunde Ahmed Popoola harped on the need for individuals to begin to take responsibility for what they do.
Popoola who was represented at the event by the Chief Commercial Officer, CRC Credit Bureau, Mrs. Peggy Chukwuma -Nwosu said, “When we open an account in a bank and they give us account opening form, do we read the terms and conditions? I am not blaming the victims and I am not saying that what they are going through isn’t important, it is, it is valid but if we hold ourselves accountable, when we are downloading an App and the App says, give me access to your contact information and it’s not just some lending Apps, there are some you would want to download, the App will make you to take a picture and it makes you look prettier or perhaps, a diary App for example, you want to use it record certain events or to remind you about certain events and that kind of App says grant me access to your contact information, the first question you should ask yourself is why am I granting access? If it’s a calendar, why am I granting access to my contacts, to my pictures? And then the onus is on us to either accept or decline.
“I find that a lot of times, we do things on reflex, we just accept and move on. Sometimes, it’s because we are in dire need of something and because we are in dire need of it, it may not matter the terms and conditions. Some of these Apps charge 4 to 5 percent and a lot of us will think 4 to 5 percent, how bad can that be but we failed to realize that 5 percent per month is actually 60 percent per annum while financial institutions may charge probably 18 to 25 percent per annum.
“Knowledge is power and like my colleague rightly said, you have not just a responsibility, but you also have the avenue with which people can learn and become more knowledgeable.”
Photo: L-R: Representing Dr. Ahmed Tunde Popoola, GMD, CRC Credit Bureau, Mrs Peggy Chukwuma -Nwosu; representing Lamido Yuguda, the DG of SEC, Alhaji Bagudu Gudu, followed by representative of Bello Hassan, MD/CE of Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation, NDIC, Ms. Hawuwa Gambo, and the President of FiBOP, Mr. Charles’ Onwuatogwu at the 2023 FiBOP Annual Conference of the association held over the weekend at the prestigious Orchid Hotels, Lekki, Lagos.
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