Friday, 28 November 2014

Electronic Evidence in Nigeria

As earlier promised in a previous blogpost, below is the link to my article: 'Electronic Evidence in Nigeria'. Electronic evidence is steadily assuming or has assumed a very important position in the adjudication of disputes or cases, be they criminal or civil. Anything done on the computer or the internet usually leaves traces or digital footprints which can serve as evidence in legal proceedings. Electronic evidence can therefore aid the investigation and solving of crimes by law enforcement agents. All this is possible because we are living in an age where most of the things we used to do manually are now done on computers, computer-like devices, or with the aid of computers and computer networks (such as the internet). For instance, using a debit card, the customer can use an Automated Teller Machine (ATM) to obtain access to their account, and to withdraw money anywhere in the world. With an internet-enabled cellphone, the customer can authorise the transfer of money to anybody anywhere in the world at any time, as well as making purchases using the same internet-enabled cellphone.

The article therefore highlights; with the aid of Nigerian and foreign cases, the importance of electronic evidence and why the Nigerian lawyer, to be considered to be competent, ought to be sufficiently literate in the technical issues regarding electronic evidence so as to understand and make use of electronic evidence. The article concludes by recommending the inclusion of a core course on electronic evidence in the curriculum of legal education in Nigeria.

Click to read the article: Electronic Evidence in Nigeria. The article is published in the Digital Evidence and Electronic Signature Law Review. Clicking on the link will take you to the law review's website, scroll down the page a little to find the article.

Please after reading endeavor to leave your comments or thoughts about the article here on this blog and also try to share it on social media platforms and to your friends(including lawyers and non-lawyers). Issues addressed in the article are of utmost importance not just to lawyers but to any person in the 21st century who uses a cell-phone, the bank, computers, computer-like devices, or computer networks (such as the internet).

Note, the article is in PDF(Portable Document Format) file format so if you cannot read PDFs on your device(cell-phone or tab) you can download it to your device and then copy it to a laptop or desktop computer which has a PDF reader/viewer installed and read the article there.

Sunday, 2 November 2014

How Not To Use Social Media

A contestant in a beauty contest while soliciting for votes from her Facebook friends posted a link to the website where her friends could vote for her on her Facebook wall and in the alternative also asked them to send to her their email addresses and phone numbers so that she could use them(email addresses and phone numbers) to do the voting in case they couldn't do it themselves.  Some of her Facebook friends in responding to her requests posted their email addresses and phone numbers on her Facebook wall. Below is a screenshot of the relevant portion of her Facebook wall:

Phishing and Spam
Some of her friends decided to post their email addresses and phone numbers on her Facebook wall, instead of sending same to her Facebook inbox. This is not good as the addresses and numbers posted on her wall can be viewed by person in any corner of the world who views her Facebook wall as it appears that her Facebook privacy settings does not limit the persons that can view her wall. Therefore, what those friends did is akin to walking on the streets of every country in the world and giving anybody they come across including strangers their email addresses and phone numbers! Probably those her friends who posted their email addresses and phone numbers on her wall thought that it is only her and her Facebook friends that could view their chat which contained the email addresses and phone numbers or  it could be that they knew all that but did not give a damn! Well, they should give a damn. Why? It is because scammers could use their email addresses and phone numbers to defraud them through a technique referred to as phishing. Phishing refers to the process of deceiving recipients of text messages and more often, emails into sharing sensitive information with an unknown third party (usually a cyber-criminal).

Typically in a phishing email scam, you receive an email that appears to come from reputable organizations, such as: banks, social media (Facebook, Twitter), etc. Phishing emails may be indiscriminate. A phisher will create an email asking the user to get in touch with a bank or credit card company claiming that there is a problem with the account or that the bank may have lost some money. These sorts of messages make people justifiably worried and more likely to follow the instruction. The phisher will then include some plausible looking details such as the bank’s logo and address and then send it to millions of individuals. Among all the recipients, a few people will have accounts with that bank and will click the link in the message, or telephone a number, which will begin the process of eliciting further personal information such as account number, ATM PIN and password, internet banking login username and password which he could use to hack into or log in into a bank account and steal money.

There are times when we receive unsolicited text messages or emails from people or organizations we do not know (spammers) and then we wonder how they got our phone number or email address. Posting your phone number and email address on your friend’s Facebook wall is one of the ways they could get your phone number and email address and then start sending you spam or spam messages. Spam simply put is irrelevant or unsolicited messages sent over the internet typically to large numbers of users, for the purposes of advertising, phishing, spreading malware (computer viruses) etc. These messages could be annoying and can include bogus offers that could cost you time and money.

In order to avoid been scammed through phishing or spam messages or to not receive spam  messages try to limit how you share your phone number and email address in public and online (blog posts, in chat rooms and on social media networking sites). Spammers and scammers use the web to harvest email addresses. For more internet safety tips and how you can use social networking sites with minimum risks click here and here and here.

A report from the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), shows more than US $445 billion gets lost annually with the damage for businesses nearly double than for individuals, through series of cybercrime, electronic theft, and online piracy. So, please read those tips and make sure you use them so that together we can help make using the internet a lot safer and keep the cybercriminals (419ners in Nigerian slang) out of business or at least reduce their success rate.