Since the advent of the internet and the ever-expanding wave of digital transformation it continues to initiate, the concept of cybersecurity has become an integral part of our professional and personal lives.
Cybersecurity is one of the significant challenges in the contemporary world, due to its complexity, both in terms of political usage and technology.
The ever-expanding reliance on computer systems, the internet and wireless networks, the growth of smart devices, mobile phones, and the numerous devices that constitute the Internet of Things (IoT), have heightened exposure to cybercrime.
Given the increasing level of digitalisation and virtual connectivity, cybersecurity and cyber threats have become inevitable issues confronting everyone who ventures into cyberspace. Cybercriminals are exploiting the opportunity to launch cyber-attacks on individuals, organisations, and vital public infrastructure.
Cybersecurity refers to the protection of internet-connected systems, such as hardware, software, and data from cyber threats. It is used by individuals and enterprises to protect against unauthorised access to data centres and other computerised systems.
In other words, it is the practice of defending computers, servers, mobile devices, electronic systems, networks, and data from malicious attacks, disclosures, theft, or damage to hardware, software or electronic data.
Africa, like the rest of the world, is witnessing a rise in reports of digital threats and malicious cyber activities, because the COVID-19 crisis has forced more people to become more reliant on the internet than ever before.
With over 104 million active internet users, Nigeria holds a vast potential for the digital transformation of its economy, as it stands among the leading Information Communication Technology (ICT) markets on the continent.
The country’s digital revolution has spread rapidly into virtually every area of the economy, with a huge impact on the commerce, health, education, banking and finance, and governance sectors.
Because of this burgeoning number of Nigerians connected to the internet, the federal government recognises that cyber fraud, cyber terrorism, and other internet vices, constitute a severe threat to the security of the country’s cyberspace and digital economy.
Nigeria, through the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA), has commenced a strategic cybersecurity sensitisation campaign across seven most vulnerable sectors, on the modalities for implementation of the National Cybersecurity Policy and Strategy (NCPS) 2021 with a focus on the protection of Critical National Information Infrastructures (CNII).
These sectors include telecommunications, defence and security, education, finance and capital markets, energy, professional organisations, the judiciary, and the private sector operators of the economy.
The objective of the NCPS 2021 is to strengthen cybersecurity governance and coordination, foster a trusted cyber environment that optimises Nigeria’s cybersecurity readiness and coordination capacities towards mitigating the nation’s cyber risk exposure.
To effectively deal with the dynamic nature of threats within its cyberspace, the policy identifies major cyber threats to include cyber-terrorism, cybercrime, online child abuse, election interference, online gender exploitation, and pandemic-induced cyber threats.
As a plan of action designed to improve the security and resilience of national infrastructure and services, the policy establishes a range of national objectives and priorities to be achieved within a specific timeframe.
Through the policy direction of the Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), has shown its determination to enhance cyber security incident management and strengthen a robust regulatory framework to promote a thriving digital economy.
The Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Mallam Isa Pantami, has relentlessly demonstrated commitment to the promotion of issues of cybersecurity for the protection of the nation’s cyber space.
Only this week, Pantami restated the value of cybersecurity as a critical tool for developing a sustainable digital economy and providing stability to Nigeria’s economy in a lecture at the 2021 International Conference on Computing and Advances in Information Technology held at Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria.
The NCC inaugurated its Computer Security Incidence Response Team (NCC – CSIRT) in alignment with the structure of the NCPS, to ensure continuous improvement of processes and communication frameworks that guarantee the secure and collaborative exchange of information to facilitate prompt response to cyber threats within the sector.
Overall, the CSIRT aims to address incidences of cybercrimes, protect telecoms infrastructure and encourage more players to participate in the digital economy. Its initial areas of focus are monitoring, incident management, communication, and alert and warning.
The Executive Vice Chairman (EVC) of the Commission, Professor Umar Danbatta, reaffirmed its avowed determination to be at the forefront of ensuring an inclusive cybersecurity culture built on people, processes, and technology, to strengthen the digital economy in Nigeria.
He also pledged that the Commission is irrevocably committed to boosting the nation’s digital economy through responsive regulations.
Danbatta spoke at the Commission’s 2021 annual cybersecurity conference, themed “Building Trust in the Digital Economy through Cybersecurity, and Sensitisation on the Implementation of the NCPS 2021”.
He noted that: “Our various cybersecurity awareness initiatives and campaigns are helping the public to understand the risks in digital space and how to reduce the vulnerabilities that adversaries can benefit from.
“Our collective resolve is to continuously boost trust and confidence in our digital economy by ensuring adherence to sound cybersecurity culture and hygiene, internally and with external partners as well as stakeholders.”
Meanwhile, the National Information Technology Development (NITDA) had earlier established its own Computer Emergency Readiness Response Team (CERRT) in 2014, in response to the increase in the rate of cybercrime and fulfillment of the requirements of the National Cybersecurity Strategy.
Without doubt, the collaborative efforts of NITDA and NCC in promoting strong cybersecurity will ensure that the digital economy is sustained on trusted technologies and partnerships where public confidence, security, privacy, safety to responsive regulations, transparency, accountability, and governance dominate.
Inyene Ibanga is Editor TechDigest and writes from Wuye District, Abuja.