A recent study by Surfshark, an Amsterdam-based cybersecurity firm, revealed that Nigeria is the 32nd most breached country in the first quarter of 2023.
As Nigeria embraces digital transformation and witnesses a rapid increase in internet connectivity, data breaches have intensified. For the uninitiated, a data breach occurs when an intruder—usually a hacker—copies and leaks confidential user data such as names, email addresses, passwords, banking details and more without permission. According to a report [pdf] by IBM, the cost of a data breach averaged $4.35 million in 2022.
A recent global study released by Surfshark, an Amsterdam-based cybersecurity firm, ranks Nigeria as the 32nd most breached country in the first quarter of 2023. Per the report, Nigeria had 82,000 leaked accounts from January to March 2023, representing a 64% increase from the previous quarter. It adds that data breaches globally declined in Q1 2023, with 41.6 million accounts breached. This is almost 50% less than the nearly 81 million recorded in Q4 2022.
Agneska Sablovskaja, lead researcher at Surfshark, is not relieved by this reduction in data breaches. “However, the fact that over 40 million accounts were breached in just a few months is still a cause for concern. Those whose data was compromised are at an increased risk of being targeted by cybercriminals as their personal information can be utilized for phishing attacks, fraud, identity theft, and other serious cybercrimes,” she said.
Russia tops the data breach charts with 6.6 million breaches, accounting for a sixth of all global data breaches from January through March. In second place is the United States, with 5 million, while Taiwan appears in third place with 3.9 million after extreme quarter-over-quarter growth, followed by France and Spain recording 3.2 million each.
The alarming surge of data breaches in Nigeria and their potential consequences raises the urgent need for proactive measures to protect sensitive information. Data breaches have severe implications for both individuals and businesses. Personal information, including financial records, medical data, and identification details can be compromised, leading to identity theft, financial fraud, and reputational damage.
For example, in July 2022, a data breach that rocked the Plateau State Contributory Health Care Management Agency (PLASCHEMA) exposed the personal data of thousands of citizens. In February, the Nigeria Data Protection Bureau (NDPB) said that it was currently investigating over 110 companies in Nigeria over allegations of data breaching.
While it is pertinent that individuals recognize the importance of data protection by staying vigilant online, other stakeholders—government agencies, corporate organisations, and civil society organisations (CSOs)—must equally rise to the occasion. Addressing the surge of data breaches requires proactive and collaborative efforts to develop comprehensive policies to strengthen the nation’s cybersecurity position.