Patriotism puts us in denial when the world accuses Nigerians of being behind the bulk of spam/fraudulent Internet messages. That is good, but the truth is that those who lay such accusations are correct, at least to a great extent. Not all Nigerians are corrupt and most want to use the Internet to enjoy the benefits of globalization: grow their friendships and business.es The minority (though a wickedly-intelligent minority) who engage in fraud make it difficult for the rest. If our national rebranding effort is to be effective, we ought to go beyond slogans and take concrete steps to encourage the use of the local .ng domain name. The reason for this is simple: anonymity fosters crime and a widespread adoption of the .ng domain name in email addresses and Nigerian websites will give us a trusted, stable and authentic position and stake on the Internet.
Yahoo mail, Hotmail and Gmail by its very nature is not a guarantee of authenticity, given that I can open a box on any one of these in a matter of minutes, providing false credentials all the way. Should I be discovered, all that is needed is simply to create another one, cover my tracks and move my crime elsewhere.
NIRA (Nigeria Internet Registration Association) has accredited 40 registrars to register domains on the .ng space. Whenever you get an email from a .ng extension, it is very easy to find out the owner of the domain name, and by extension the source of any email address. Now once both the world and all users know that this is possible, it will reduce the incidences of sending fraud messages from such emails and hence increases the confidence the world will have doing business with Nigerians.
Take for instance that I receive an email from an firstname.lastname@example.org and want to confirm if this is just another fraudulent mail or not. I will do what is called a “whois search”, that checks the domain registry to give all identifiable information about the said domain. Visit the website http://whois.com.ng and type netregit.com.ng in the available field and click “ok” to investigate the domain. What do you get?
Along with other details, the search gives me the following result:
Created: 21 May 2009
Expires: 21 May 2010
Modified: 19 Aug 2009
Registrar: Netorb Media
Ok, so I know that the domain name netregit.com.ng was first registered on 21 May 2009 and that the NIRA Accredited Registrar who renewed it is Netorb Media. Good start! Next I can check if the email address is a valid one and where the email is hosted. I click on the “valid email” check, enter the address and I’m told the owner is hosting his email on Google servers. At this point, I already have two authorities I can complain to should I want to report the user of this email: the domain registrar and Google.
As you know the name of the domain Registrar, you can get their full contact details from the NIRA website (nira.org.ng) and let them know that a domain registered by them is the source of a worrisome email. In a matter of hours, they should be able (through the domain registrant) to trace the source of the email.
Can you do a whois on yahoo, hotmail and gmail. Sure you can, but it does not help you much seeing that each one of them hosts millions of email addresses and they do not see themselves beholden to you or your concerns.
Our future as Nigerians lie entirely in our hands. Imagine a scenario where government business is conducted on a @yahoo.com email address. If that were not already a shame and pretty immature, it makes it possible and easy for anyone to claim to be a government minister. And these mailboxes get hacked everyday and mails are sent without the knowledge of the original owner.
The Nigeria rebranding effort must take root in cyberspace in ways beyond telling the world what they should think about us. We need a change of name; we need to be called by what we truly are: Nigerians – good people, good nation, proudly using the .ng domain name!