I also participate in any form of research and training activities that will help advance the frontiers of knowledge. At the moment I am engaged in grant writing to fund some of our research initiatives on web security and mentoring others to go ahead and surpass us in our quest for a better Africa.
Q. Your work concerns cybercrime and cyber security, can you briefly explain these concepts?
A. Cybercrimes are all forms of crimes committed on the cyberspace (the internet) using computers and other ubiquitous ICT technologies such as mobile phones, Ipods, e-mail facilities, mobibe banking tools, social engineering sites etc provided by Information and Communication infrastructures. It also encompasses cyber terrorisms, web pornography, pedophiling, phishing cyber espionage, virus and malware attacks, cyber stalking etc. Machines can be used as tools or targets. In most cases human targets are defrauded, victimized or exposed to other forms of vices.
Q. So for the period of researching and perhaps practice, what are your key contributions to cybercrime and cyber security research and practice in general and especially in the African context?
A. In my PhD work, I philosophized on outbound filtering of e-mail messages and that has become a reality today. Mails are now scanned before leaving their origin by some e-mail systems (gmail for example). My research work which has taken me to Europe, the United States, Canada and quite a number of countries in Africa has also been able to establish that Africa is not the origin of most spam mails as is generally believed.
We have also been able to promote a policy that makes internet intermediaries responsible for contents emanating through their networks and highlight their intrinsic role in the facilitation of unethical behaviors on the internet. We have done some work also on the effect of exposure of children and teens to spurious sexually explicit contents and its implications for these categories of people and the incidence of HIV/AIDS in Africa. These works have been published in reputable journals and presented at international conferences. Finally, we are mentoring scholars to develop interest in coming up with indigenous solution that can scale at international level to the cyber crime problem and other related issues
Q. Very impressive, and we congratulate you. Getting back to your country Nigeria, how has your country faired in ICT progress over the last decade?
A. Nigeria has made very giant strides in the ICT discourse. As at today, we have the highest penetration level for mobile phones. Governmental policies have deregulated the telecommunication sector with a lot of private participation. Calls rates and internet access rates have reduced considerably over the last decade and more people can now take advantage of ICT tools and facilities. In the same vein, various players in the ICT sector have contributed immensely to providing employment for the teeming population and also contributing to social and infrastructural development. This has impacted on other sectors such as banking, education, commerce and industry and the government institution. The quest for ICT education is also on the increase.
The introduction of ICTs training at grassroots level and primary schools is also commendable. Although there are still challenges with bandwidth congestion and call drops as well as availability of services, but the nation has fared really very well and hopefully these problems will be addressed as more [players and better technologies come into play.
Q. We recognize you are the Head of Cybercrime at the New Partnership for African Development (NEPAD), tell us about them and discuss your specific role and contribution to their mandate.
A. NEPAD is committed to African development. The approach is to explore and exploit the synergy provided by the collaborating nations. We are working with interested groups all over the world in the area of cyber security to attract research interest, funds and meetings to African countries to address the cyber security issue.
A forum of this nature tagged Computer Emergency Response Team was held in Abuja in October in conjunction with a team from Fairfax Virginia in the USA.
Q. If you had audience at the African Union with African Head of States, what will you say concerning cybercrime and cyber security?
A. There is need for us to have a consensus on laws and policies to deal with cyber crime across national boundaries. Jurisdiction of law has been a challenge in fighting these crimes. There is also the need to train and properly position law enforcement with modern tools to address the issue of cyber security. A joint training program will be very appropriate in these regards.
Q. AJDIP: On a personal note, what is your motivation in life and what advice do you have for young academics and practitioners in the ICT sector in Africa?
A. If there is a will, there is a way – that is what motivates me. The desire to contribute my quota to the growth and development of humanity is another driving force. I also believe that with God on your side set goals are achievable. For young academia and practitioners like me in Africa I will say there is much work to be done, much ground to cover and much potentials to exploit. Let us make better choices than the Older generation. We can learn from their mistakes and not repeat the same.
Collaboration and synergy will make the difference in our time, we have to buy into internationalization of research and development efforts. No need re-inventing the wheels. We must also be resilient – nothing good comes easy. Lets also make the fear of God our guide and we will experience His blessings.
AJDIP. Dr. Longe, thank you very much for your time with us. We hope to bring you to Ghana for the first ever Conference on Development Informatics and Policy in Africa.
About Dr. Longe
Olumide Babatope LONGE is on faculty at the Department of Computer Science, University of Ibadan, Ibadan, Nigeria. He holds a National Diploma in Electronics Engineering from the Federal Polytechnic, Ado Ekiti, Nigeria, a B.Sc. in Computer Science from the University of Benin, Benin City, Nigeria, a Master of Technology Degree in Computer Science from the Federal University of Technology, Akure and a PhD in Computer Science, University of Benin City with specialization on cyber security.
His scholarly publication has appeared and has been quoted in reputable peer-refereed Journals, Conference proceedings, Newsletters and edited books. A recipient of the prestigious John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Award, he is an Associate Director of the Institute for Cyber Security and Allied Research at the International Center for Information Technology and Development (ICITD), College of Business, Southern University, Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Longe is a member of the IEEE, ACM, the International Association of Engineers (IAENG), Computer Professional of Nigeria (CPN) and the Internet Society (ISOC). In October 2010, he was among the nine scholars selected among over 300 research applicants to participate in the MISTI Africa Fellowship to visit the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Boston in 2011 as a research fellow. A speaker at information security and allied research conferences and workshop, he is actively researching into cybercrime causation, apprehension, treatment and prevention using social theories and information security models.