Experts seek govt’s intervention over increasing cyber attacks
Gathered at a roundtable forum in Lagos, recently to discuss the increasing cyber threats, the experts insisted that urgent measures must be put in place by the federal government to nip in the bud the menace.
The experts discussed heightened risks of cyber attacks in Nigeria and Africa as well as their implications on national development and suggested what could be done to mitigate their effects in Nigeria by 2016.
Already, a United States of America’s software security firm, Symantec Corporation has warned that come 2016, cyber threats and attacks would increase and become more sophisticated, especially risks to mobile devices, internet of things (IoT), and critical ICT infrastructure.
A DataGroupIT report titled: ‘Unified Intelligence: Authentication and Fraud’, recently released clamed that Nigeria loses about N78 billion to activities of cyber criminals, who target the financial institutions, associations and government’s Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) and regulatory authorities.
According to the report financial institutions are losing about N50 billion; associations N11 billion; Govt MDAs N10 billion; telecommunications firms N4.5 billion; ePayment companies N3 billion and on the overall, the country loses N78 billion yearly.
The report listed top three cyber-attacks methods used in Nigeria to include social engineering, which is about 83 per cent; malware 42 per cent; pharming, SQL injection, spoofing 23 per cent.
Other methods included brute force attacks, weak passwords; website defacement; use of unpatched software; organized crime syndicates, physical disconnection; hacking, email hacking; internal security breaches among others.
However, at the Roundtable, posited that the federal government must rise to its responsibilities to protect citizens and businesses by coming up with measures that will deal with the issue.
According to the experts, the menace can be tackled through active co-operation between government and the Information Technology (IT) industry.
They called on government to finalise the issue of a single database of all Nigerians and organisations, which they said, would help to track cyber security attacks in the country.
“Cyber security needs to be demystified, a lot still needs to be learned by the public, and this calls for adequate publicity and awareness campaign that will make Nigerians understand the dangers of cyber attacks. The absence of serious attacks on the government has made light of the gravity of the threat of cyber insecurity, but this has to be addressed before it is too late,” the ICT experts said.
In a presentation on ‘Cybersecurity, the challenges and Solutions for Nigeria’, the President, Association of Industrial Security and Safety Operations of Nigeria (AISSON), Dr. Ona Ekhomu, called for software type-approve for national use. He frowned on the situation where software codes for national use like the Bank Verification Number (BVN) and the voters’ registration card, as well as the SIM registration, were being handled by foreigners, when in the actual sense, Nigerians could handle them better than the foreign experts.
“Sensitive software for national use must be localised and certified”, Ekkomu said.
President of the Nigeria Computer Society (NCS), Prof. Sola Aderounmu, stressed the need for government to legislate on the protection of Intellectual Property (IP) addresses of software developers, to encourage them develop more.
President of the Institute of Software Practitioners of Nigeria (ISPON), Pius Okigbo (Jr), spoke on IP protection. He stressed that software developers lose a lot of their revenue to IP theft.
The ICT experts resolved that a standard for the acquisition of software in Nigeria should be created and the office of the Chief Information Technology Officer of the Federation, established. They also called for the endorsement and promotion of ethical hacking in Nigeria, which they argued, would help reduce malicious hacking.
Meanwhile, on the recent Information and Communications Technology Development (IDI) ranking of the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), which placed Nigeria 134th among 169 countries, a former president of ISPON, Chris Uwaje, lamented that the country was underestimated.