Marco: Government must prepare to contain cyber crimes, terrorism
Cyber threats are growing in intensity and scale in today’s global and digital world, with devastating effects on infrastructure, the economy and the populace. Top Israeli security expert, Aviad Marco, is hi-tech engineer with experience in Home Land Security and Cyber Projects. In this interview with MIRIAM HUMBE, he says cyber crimes can occur without warning, raising the urgent need for governments and private sector to utilise modern technology to counter cyber crimes, ensure safeguards and be on the red alert.
What are the consequences of neglecting Homeland Security and Cyber Space?
It can be quite devastating because each threat on an official service provider, institute or critical resource, is a risk to both the people and the government. In the nation of Israel for example, Home Land Security solutions are distinct that they are not directed to known and established (past) risks, but towards the unknown and future threats. Homeland Security has always been top priority in Israel. The need for unique technologies and self reliance has grown into a diversified sophisticated and advanced industry with products and solutions suitable for the most demanding situations and environments.
Lagos state has benefitted from your partnership. How will you rate the Lagos Safe-City Project in terms of your collaborations?
Together with us, Lagos State decided to implement an ambitious safe-city concept to cover its territory with cameras, sensors and other technological elements. The main requirement for the safe-city concept was to create an ability to monitor activities throughout the state and city in a way that will maintain the highest level of security 24/7. Our collaborations started before 2009 at the request of the government of Lagos State, with the collaboration of a local company in Lagos. We built infrastructure that is fully ready, working and operational. At this point, I assume it’s still working. It is a combination of technology and awareness from the Lagos State government.
What lessons can Nigeria learn from Israel in terms of cyber crimes?
More than 450 Israeli companies are developing and producing unique cyber products. Israel cyber solutions are covering a range of threats and risk on all communication and information entities, including back office, main frames, Personal Computers [PC], personal devices, personal smart phones, communication and control systems, navigation systems, critical facilities, private cars and public transportation. Today, cyber crime and terrorism is on the rise around the world, but we detect more and more cyber attacks from various sources. Israel is ranked highest for cyber-security. Also, the Israeli cyber security industry is estimated to represent seven percent of global sales and eight percent of global investments. This represents an annual export of more than $3b. Companies such as IBM, Cisco, General Electric (GE), have established Research and Development cyber centers in Israel. One in six computers are protected by anti-virus software developed in Israel.
In what ways can counter-cyber technology help the growth of Nigeria’s education sector?
Talking of education, it depends on what we are doing and what are the applications. For example, in cyber, we are protecting all the information that is being used. Imagine what would happen if you are unable to provide salaries for your teachers, due to a problem in the Information Technology (IT) infrastructure. Therefore, this is one application. Of course, you can use many more applications. In Israel for example, a lot of Israelis are using the IT infrastructure for education. So, everything is protected. It is almost covering all aspects of life. So, the applications are many and it depends on what you would like to protect. You also have to understand what will happen if you are not going to protect; what could be the impact when a cyber crime is committed.
How can counter-cyber crimes technology be deployed to curb terrorism, kidnapping and sundry crimes?
Let’s take the Boston terror attacks that happened several years ago. In order to prevent further occurrences, first of all, you are dealing with a lot of crowd, you have to be aware that something can happen and you don’t know where it will come from. In order to apprehend the terrorists, of course, they used homeland security cameras and different face recognition technology that really helped to identify the terrorists and they were able to discover those terrorists through the different applications.
When you are going to mount a mast, for example, you have different locations, you want to protect cities, you want to protect infrastructure, and places that are very crowded. This technology allows you to take mass information. For example, If you want to locate one person within millions of people, if you want to locate different things that happened during that time, this technology will aid you. Basically, you have to be prepared. Unfortunately, you have bad experiences with terrorism here in Abuja and in different states in Nigeria. Today that your population is growing fast and the amount of terrorism and terror groups are increasing, you have to be prepared, take control and be aware of those situations that take other nations by storm with devastating consequences. You must have technology in place.
How useful can anti-cyber crimes technology be to Nigeria’s Immigration Service in securing the nation’s borders?
There are many different applications that are being used around the globe, from the borders between Kashmir and India, Mexico and the United States.
Even in Israel, we close borders with cameras, with different technologies in order to prevent illegal entries. It was just published recently that the amount of penetration to Israel through the borders was reduced to zero during the last six months. We can understand that by effective application of those kinds of technologies, you can prevent any penetration through the borders and this is something that we are doing quite often. Of course, it requires cameras; it requires technologies, armoured vehicles and quite a lot of different technologies around these areas. It is not only one solution.
What is the global situation of cyber crimes in terms of statistics?
We see more and more cyber crimes in different IT locations, infrastructure, we see a lot of damage that those crimes are causing to the organisations. Today, we cannot even separate the government or the private segment or sectors because everyone is being attacked. We see in Israel, more and more attempt to penetrate different locations, government institutions, different private institutions and companies. Because we are aware of all the cyber attacks, we know how to defend ourselves. Most of the times, the attacks are being stopped by different technologies that we have.
How will counter-cyber technology aid the policing and law enforcement in the country?
Today, you have a very high population in Nigeria. You cannot bring the police to every place. In order to understand the risks that the country is facing, you cannot do that only by using law enforcement officers or the police. Technology allows you to create a safer place, it allows you to get more information, and more useful understanding of what is happening and what is going on. There are many things that we cannot reveal. This is government work, government technology. I can assure you, more adoption of this kind of technology will create a safer Nigeria, safer states and will bring you to the point that you will have a more controlled and safe country. This is the main idea.
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