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‘Nigeria must intensify cyber security ahead of broadband revolution’

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To ensure maximum impact of the New National Broadband Plan (NNBP 2020-2025), Nigeria will need to pay adequate attention to cyber security matters.

The need to ensure tighter cyberspace in Nigeria became necessary, following the projected upsurge in online activities as a result of the implementation of the NNBP.

Already, with the NNBP, Nigeria eyes 70 per cent broadband penetration (which is currently 42.9 per cent) by 2025.

The new Broadband Plan is designed to deliver data download speeds across Nigeria of a minimum 25Mbps in urban areas, and 10Mbps in rural areas, with effective coverage available to at least 90 per cent of the population by 2025 at a price not more than N390 per 1GB of data.

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Indeed, at a webinar on National Broadband Development and Cyber security with the theme: “National Broadband Development and Cyber security: Issues, Opportunities and Challenges,” organised by the Nigeria Academy of Engineering (NAE), experts, who gathered to discuss the issue, noted that as the country sets out to implement the strategic measures and unlock national potential for ensuring progressive use of the nation’s cyberspace, all stakeholders have the mandate to make conscious effort to balance the security, social and economic imperatives of cyberspace with the cyber security needs of government, industry, academia and the international community.

The guest speaker, Cyber Risk Services Leader, Deloitte West Africa, Tope Aladenusi, said the impact of cybercriminals cannot be over emphasized. He disclosed that in 2020 cybercrime loss globally was $1 trillion.

Recalling 2020, he said the year brought a major reset on life and the world, with the globe having to adjust to the new normal “working from anywhere”, which has brought with it an increased dependence on Internet and broadband both within and outside Nigeria.

Aladenusi said broadband penetration is still a ‘work in progress’ in Nigeria but that does not mean it is not accessible.

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According to him, the benefits of broadband are huge, including the ability to create jobs; diversifies the economy and fosters GDP growth; enables improvement in education, health care and other social services; stimulates innovation; improves public safety and security.

Opportunities worth exploring as a result of broadband development, according to Aladenusi include that it brings a monumental increase in the rate of data gathering which would increase the accuracy of AI and ML tools; increased speed in detecting attacks and alerting systems; ease of enforcing and verifying compliance to security standards, laws and regulations, and increased investment in cyber security research and development.

Aladenusi however, said with increased broadband development and penetration, also comes increased risks. He said the proliferation of cybercrime would increase.

According to him, tactics used by cybercriminals often play on the weaknesses of human beings and are easy to implement. He pointed out that in cyberspace, physical and geographical boundaries do not exist, as such, there is room for vulnerabilities, adding that there are limited skilled cyber security resources.

He revealed that cyber risk affects all stakeholders in the broadband value chain, including equipment providers, content providers, network operators/Internet service providers, handset, application, service providers, and customers.

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The Deloitte chief listed common cyber-attacks/threats to include phishing, smishing, vishing; business email compromise; ransomware and malware attacks, denial of service attacks among others.

Revealing Nigeria cyber security outlook 2021, according to Deloitte, Aladenusi said there will be a sharp rise of deep fakes, signature-based antivirus will go extinct in many organisations; Phishing attacks will still reign; they will be bigger, better and bolder; cyber security will become imperative for business survival and there the spotlight will be on Nigeria.

According to him, the benefits of having an established cyber security program will include having increased trust in online services; increase in profit margins due to reduced malicious activities on the network; increase cyber resilience; reputational and brand advantages and reduction in the cost of dealing with complaints, direction and legal resource.

For Nigerians to protect themselves, Aladenusi recommended that there must be specific initiatives around cyber security; awareness must be strengthened; there must be test security on broadband, and there must the ability to develop the capacity to recover and bounce back.

NAE President, Alex Ogedengbe, said the event was put together by the ICT committee of the academy, with a focus on ensuring that the country is prepared adequately well, especially in the areas of cyber security for the broadband revolution.

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