Ribadu: Nigeria Needs Robust National Cybersecurity Intelligence, Strategies for Digital Transformation      

Emma Okonji

The National Security Adviser, Mallam Nuhu Ribadu has stressed the need for robust national cybersecurity intelligence initiatives and strategies that will enable Nigeria achieve a successful digital transformation and safe cyberspace.

Ribadu said this at the fourth edition of the Cybersecurity Forum and Workshop, organised by the Nigeria Computer Society (NCS), in Abuja, with the theme: “The Intelligent Initiatives and Strategies for National Cybersecurity Management.”

Represented by the Director of Communications, Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA), Major General Samad Akinsode, Ribadu said cybersecurity challenges had become a central pillar of Nigeria’s national security strategies, and must be addressed as such.  

According to him, cybersecurity threats are rapidly evolving, posing risks to national security, economic stability and public safety, adding that Nigeria faces a myriad of threats, including data breaches, ransomware attacks and infrastructure disruptions.

Ribadu outlined some of the intelligence initiatives and strategies that are pivotal in strengthening the Nigerian cyber security landscape, to include the revised 2014 National Cybersecurity Policy and Strategy Document, and the creation of a comprehensive version in 2021. According to him, the document presents a national roadmap and implementation plan for addressing the emerging threat in the cyber domain to enhance progressive use of Nigerian cyberspace.

“The revised National Cybersecurity Policy and Strategy Document focuses on eight pillars, designed to significantly enhance the Nigerian cybersecurity culture, which include: Strengthening cybersecurity governance and coordination; Protecting critical national information infrastructure; Enhancing cybersecurity incidence management; Strengthening legal and regulatory framework; Enhancing cyber defense capability; Promoting thriving digital economy; Ensuring monitoring and evaluation; and Stimulate international corporation. In recognition of the need to improve national cybersecurity strategy and intelligence initiatives, the National Cybersecurity Coordination Centre, was established and recently operationalised to address issues of cybersecurity in the country,” Ribadu said.

He however said the issues with cybersecurity would require collective responsibility of all Nigerians and the entire government agencies, adding that the priority of the ONSA is about capacity building since investment in technology alone will not be sufficient to address the challenges of cybersecurity.

“ONSA is therefore involved in training and certification programmes to equip skilled professionals for effective cybersecurity measures, and will continue to conduct sensitisation and awareness programmes in this regard,” Ribadu further said.

He challenged NCS to harness the enormous potential of Nigerian skilled youths, particular those on the streets, using necessary mechanisms.

Ribadu explained that the recently amended Cybercrime Act of 2015, would provide legal backing for institutional and regulatory frameworks for the coordination as well as implementation of the roadmap for cybersecurity and cybercrime in Nigeria.

During the workshop and technical session, Director General, Department of State Services (DSS), who was represented by the Director, Public Relations and Strategic Communications at DSS, Dr. Peter Afunanya, spoke on the sub-theme: ‘Emerging Cyberthreats and Counter Strategies in Nigeria’, and highlighted the dangers of cybersecurity and the need to keep Nigeria’s cyberspace safe.

Partner, Leader of Deloitte West Africa’s Risk Advisory Business, Mr. Tope Aladenusi, spoke on the sub-theme: “Nigeria Cybersecurity Outlook: Learning From International Perspectives,” while Commissioner of Police, who was represented by Deputy Commissioner of Police, Usman Imam, spoke on the sub-theme: “Combating Emerging Crimes Through Intelligence Policing.”

Earlier in his opening speech, NCS President, Dr. Muhammad Sirajo Aliyu, said the forum would serve as a platform for experts to share their knowledge and discuss best practices and develop strategies to enhance cybersecurity in an increasingly digital world. He raised concern about the alarming rise in mobile channel fraud, which has increased to 19 per cent according to the first quarter report of the Nigeria Inter-bank Settlement Scheme (NIBSS).

“Through collaborative efforts and the sharing of cutting-edge knowledge, we can foster a resilient cybersecurity environment capable of safeguarding Nigeria’s digital future,” Aliyu said.  

In his goodwill message, the Chairman of Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), Dr. Zacc Adedeji, who was represented by the Director, Intelligence Strategic Data Mining and Analysis at FIRS, Mr. Kola Okunola, emphasised the need for continuous training and capacity building of staff of all organisations, to curb cybersecurity issues in the country, adding that investment in cybersecurity without capacity building is a waste of resources.

Chairman, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Olanipekun Olukoyede, who represented by Head of Cybercrime at EFCC, Mr. Bello Madori, said: “Nigerian cybersecurity landscape is faced with serious challenges that bothers on lack of digital training, leading to financial leakages and reputational damages. Cybersecurity is on the increase and under-reported. There is need for prompt reporting of cybersecutity issues in order to build adequate data that will help to address cybersecurity issues. EFCC is determined to fight cybercrime, but the NCS must redefine partnersips and collaborations across security agencies in the country to improve cybersecurity in Nigeria.”

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