Improving Cyber Security Posture of the Nigerian Navy 

Improving Cyber Security Posture of the Nigerian Navy 

To test the proficiency of personnel in various aspects of communication and Cyberdrills, the Nigerian Navy recently held the third annual inter-command competition. Beyond this, Chiemelie Ezeobi writes that the core derivative was geared towards developing the capacity of CIT personnel as well as re-invigorating standard communication procedures with a view to enhancing and sustaining professionalism

The Nigerian Navy recently held it third Annual Inter-Command Competition and Cyberdrills with the aim to help test and improve the proficiency of personnel in various aspects of communication and Cyberdrills.

Planned Drills 

This year’s completion featured two cyberdrills and a mini hackerthon aimed at preparing officers and men for cyber defence and consciousness of their environment. The Nigerian Army Signal Corps also participated in the competition.

“A total of 42 personnel consisting two officers from SLT – Lt and five ratings each from Petty Officer and below from the six commands are expected to participate in the competition. 

The competitive events for the competition fell under the following broad categories: Visual Communication- Practical Semaphore, Flashing and Flag Hoist, Practical Voice Procedure, Practical Message Handling including message drafting, Practical Radio System Set up, General Communication Knowledge, Fleet Work and Cyberdrills.

Commitment to Service Delivery 

At the event, which started from July 31st and ended August 4, 2023, the 

Chief of Naval Staff (CNS), Vice Admiral Emmanuel Ogalla, said it was also a call for more dedication to duty and commitment and service delivery. 

The CNS who was represented by the Flag Officer Commanding Western Naval, Rear Admiral Mohammed Abdullahi, said cyber attacks are fast becoming a major threat to military organisations globally and “in recent years, we have seen a number of high-profile cyber attacks against military organisations, including the NotPetya attack in 2017 that caused significant damage to the Ukrainian military.

“This Inter-command competition is an important opportunity for us to test our personnel in semaphore, flashing, voice communication as well as cyber security defenses and to learn how to respond to a real-world cyber attack. 

“We will be simulating a variety of cyber attacks, including phishing attacks, malware attacks, and denial-of-service attacks. I want to emphasize that this is not a game but a serious exercise that needs to be taken seriously. Just as the saying goes “make hay while the sun shines”. The goal of this competition is to drill ourselves and improve our cyber security posture. This is aimed at improving our military cyber defence capabilities towards thwarting any cyber attack. 

“At this juncture juncture, it is important to reiterate that the erstwhile DCIT has been upgraded to a full Branch with four Directorates which include; Directorate of Communications, Directorate of Cyber Security and Forensics, Directorate of Satellite Communications and Directorate of Information Technology. 

“This development calls for more dedication to duty and commitment to service delivery as a Branch. As you all know, to who much is given, much is required.”

Need for Effective Communication 

Also speaking at the opening ceremony, the Chief of Communication And Information Technology, Rear Admiral Olusanya Abiodun Bankole stressed the need for an effective communication in achieving successful operations. 

Berating records of failed standards in communication with the agency which he traced to the attitude of operators and negligence to communication protocols, he further noted that the competition was to assess the proficiency of personnel and engender CIT Personnel capacity.

Aside from the fact that the competition would reinvigorate standard communication protocols, Bankole said it would also expose participants to latest trends in the cyber space, adding that “I have no doubt that this would provide a platform for all of us to interact and refresh our memories on foundations and rudiments of our communication profession. Communication is the fulcrum of any successful operation, like the saying goes “if you ain’t got communication, you ain’t got nothing.” 

“Recently, naval headquarters has been inundated with reports of falling standards in naval communication, due largely to the attitudes of the operators and disregard to standard communication procedures. In a bid to correct these anomalies the idea to conduct an annual communication competition was mooted. 

“The aim of the competition is to test the proficiency of personnel of the Branch in various aspects of communication and Cyberdrills. It is also to develop the capacity of CIT personnel as well as re-invigorate standard communication procedures with a view to enhancing and sustaining professionalism in CIT.

“The competition will also feature Cyber drills as we all aware the cyber space is an important component on cyber warfare, cybersecurity, artificial-intelligent and other components in the cyber space”.

“Let me state here that there is a lot at stake so all teams are to put in their very best. It is hoped that all the Commands have prepared their contestants accordingly for the above listed events. All necessary books, publications and flags required for the competition will be provided by the coordinating team,” he said.

“I wish to acknowledge the support and contributions of the New Horizon and InfoPrive company for participating in this year’s competition. While thanking the officials for agreeing to take part in this competition I urge all to be fair. We hope to learn from this competition to improve on subsequent competitions. Finally, I wish to express the sincere appreciation of the Branch to the CNS for his continued support and for approving this competition. Onward together.”

Pivotal Platform for Honing Military Preparedness

At the closing ceremony, the CNS, who was represented by the Chief Staff Officer, Naval Training Command, Rear Admiral Dan Atakpa, commended the significance of the competition, characterising it as a pivotal platform for honing and enhancing the cyber security preparedness of the military.

Emphasising the importance of fortifying the military against cyber threats, particularly in leveraging cyberspace for both operational and administrative purposes within the Nigerian Navy, he highlighted that the competition effectively demonstrated the participants’ capabilities and dedication to safeguarding the military’s critical data and systems.

This, in turn, he said, contributes to the augmentation of individual skill sets, further solidifying the military’s resilience against cyber attacks.

According to him, “I am particularly pleased with the events that took place during this period especially the introduction of cyberdrills and the hackathon. As you all know, cyber-attacks are growing threats to our military. In recent years, we have seen a number of high-profile cyber-attacks against organisations both military and civil.

“This competition has given us the opportunity to drill ourselves and improve our cyber security posture and to make our military more resilient to cyber-attacks especially in the use of the cyberspace for operations and administration in the Nigerian Navy. 

“We have talented teams of cybersecurity professionals as was demonstrated during the hackathon exercise. This further shows our capacity and commitment to protecting our military’s data and systems by enhancing our individual skills.

“As we are aware, Communication is a critical and pivotal element in modern warfare and administration, be it on land, sea, air, space or cyber space. Effective and secure communication links have always been a fundamental requirement for navies, which modern fleets rely heavily on radio and satellite technologies. 

“The increasing build-up of the network-centric environment in the military and capable networks for voice as well as data-transmissions is becoming even more important in military operations.”

He further congratulated all participants and winning teams for their outstanding effort in the competition and encourage all participants to never relax their oars and take advantage of what was learnt.

Bolstering Navy’s Strength, Resilienc

Also at the closing ceremony, Rear Admiral Bankole, who served as both the convener of the competition and the CCIT, highlighted that the event would contribute to bolstering the Navy’s strength and resilience, just as he emphasised its role in motivating officers to persist in their pursuit of training and personal growth.

“By testing our forces in these areas, we can identify any weaknesses and take steps to address them. I am confident that the lessons learned from this competition will make our forces stronger and more resilient.

“I want to encourage all the participants to continue training and developing themselves in these areas and also putting everything we have learnt into practice and especially to be more confident in the Nigerian Navy’s future.

I also want to encourage Commands to continue this trend by conducting Inter-Command competition to prepare their men suitable for this competition,” he added. 

At the end of the competition, trophies were won and medals given to teams and individuals that distinguished themselves.

Quote 

In recent years, we have seen a number of high-profile cyber-attacks against organisations both military and civil.

This competition has given us the opportunity to drill ourselves and improve our cyber security posture and to make our military more resilient to cyber-attacks especially in the use of the cyberspace for operations and administration in the Nigerian Navy

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