Concern Mounts over Suspicious Digital Communications, Cyberattacks

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By Emma Okonji

Information technology experts in the country are worried over the rising rate of suspicious digital communications and cyberattacks on individuals and organisations, describing the ugly trend as a national security risk.

Disturbed that the trend may degenerate into national security breaches, the experts, who are professionals in cybersecurity matters, called for effective information sharing and collaborations among Nigerian organisations to tackle the rising rate of cybersecurity challenges in the country.

The experts in their various summations at a special industry round table with chief information security officers in Nigeria, which held in Lagos with the theme: “Cyberwarfare: Winning the Raging War”, observed that the increasing damage that cybersecurity issues pose to organisation’s bottom-line has brought cyber risks to the top of the agenda for many executives and boards today.

Chief Information Security Officer, Central Bank of Nigeria, Rakiya Mohammed, in her keynote address said it was important that organisations know their capacity to prevent, detect, respond and recover from cyber-attacks, adding that every company has been or will be impacted by cyber risk.

Mohammed is of the view that organisations needed to upscale their cyber army training and retention, situational awareness, background checks, IT business continuity and disaster recovery testing strategies to prevent such attacks and manage them appropriately whenever they occur.

Managing director, DigitalJewels, Adedoyin Odunfa, while moderating the panel discussion, observed that the damaging attacks, and the suspicious digital communications that were coming at an increasingly and alarming frequency at the national, regional and globally levels, have brought cyber risks to the top of the agenda for many executives and boards in the country. She advised that organisations must move beyond fear and confusion with regards to cyberattacks, to taking actions that are deliberate, intentional and impactful to mitigate against imminent threats and recover seamlessly.

Chief Information Security Officer at FirstBank, Harrison Nnaji, stated that organisations must understand their digital ecosystem and build a response that cuts across the ecosystem.

He pointed out that whatever digital layout the board of organisations decide to create for users, must take into consideration the technology part, third party involvement, the interface and the perimeter in order to build a response that cuts across a strategy within an ecosystem alongside sustainable operational and tactical plans.

On what is considered the greatest source of risk today as far as cyber-risk is concerned for the financial services industry, the Head, Industry Security Services, Nigeria Inter-Bank Settlement Systems (NIBSS), Olufemi Fadairo, identified compromised employees as a key risk factor as well as data infiltration.

“Knowledge keeps growing and if organisations must cover the steps of cybersecurity breaches in order to prevent attacks, they must keep improving daily, otherwise, people will be the biggest risk”, he said.

“ In addition organisations need to appreciate the value of their recognisable assets to ascertain the level of protection to be provided,” Fadairo added.

On their part, Ighoakpo Eduje and Abumere Igboa, representing Heritage Bank and StanbicIBTC respectively on the panel, said: “There is significant improvement in awareness among boards in organisations when it comes to cyber security. The issue of cyber risks remains top on the agenda and this calls for a buy-in and total involvement of all within the organisation to ensure cyber resilience.”

They, however, called for robust governance structures with high level collaboration with security agencies in dealing with cybersecurity matters through engagement and capacity development and also an enterprise wide risks view approach in addressing such issues.

Speaking on cybersecurity best practices that could be adopted by public and private sector organisations, the Chief Information Security Officer, Guarantee Trust Bank, Bharat Soni, maintained that a minimum baseline mandatory practices should be adopted by all organisations in alignment with regulatory, industry and global standards to stay safe in the cyber space.