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‘No organisation is immune to cyber threats’, CSEAN President warns

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The massive amount of information popping out of various social and mobile platforms continues to add to organizations’ vulnerabilities, making them attractive targets for complex cybercrimes, says the President of Cyber Security Experts Association of Nigeria, Remi Afon

While addressing participants at this year’s Cyber Secure Nigeria 2019 Conference with the theme “Implementing Cybersecurity and Data Privacy Practices in Nigeria” Afon said that since last year’s conference, the cyber security threat landscape has evolved rapidly, and attacks have increased in number and sophistication.

According to the Association’s President, although, most data breaches in Nigeria go unreported, the increasing amount of large-scale, well-publicized breaches globally suggests that not only are the number of security breaches going up, they’re increasing in severity, as well.

In his words, “In 2016, 3 billion Yahoo accounts were hacked in one of the biggest breaches of all time.

“In February 2019, a collection of 2.7 billion identity records, consisting of 774 million unique email addresses and 21 million unique passwords, was posted on the web for sale as reported by Troy Hunt, an Australian web security expert, and administrator of Have I Been Pwned (HIBP) website. It is estimated that the average cost of a data breach will be over $150 million by 2020, with the global annual cost forecast to be $2.1 trillion”.

He argued that with rapid technological advances, cloud adoption, blockchain implementation, artificial intelligence and data science, it’s no surprise that the potential for cyberattacks and data breaches remain a top concern in today’s digital landscape.

“According to the recently released Global Risks Report 2019 by The World Economic Forum (WEF), massive data theft and cyberattacks ranked among the top five risks facing the society today. Cybersecurity reports from different sources attest to alarming levels of increased cyber threats and compromises, suffice to say that a business enterprise or livelihood can go up in flames due to cyber-attack. We cannot stand by and watch this spectacle unfold.

“It is estimated that Africa’s e-commerce industry will be worth US$75 billion by 2025 with Nigeria in the lead according to a 2016 report by the Global Forum on Cyber Expertise.

“The number of active mobile phone lines in Nigeria rose to 174 million in January 2019 based on NCC’s report. As mobile technologies are transforming Nigerian society by providing a major form of connectivity and social networking platform, consequently the country has become both source and target of cybercrime activities.

“No single organisation is immune to cyber threats. The massive amount of information popping out of various social and mobile platforms continues to add to organizations’ vulnerabilities, making them attractive targets for complex cybercrimes.

“Although there is growing global awareness of the threats and risks in cyberspace, there is still limited understanding of the nuances of the debate in Nigeria. Research and investment in cyber security are essential to meeting and responding to cybersecurity threats in a timely fashion and to nurturing human resource capabilities, unfortunately cybersecurity is currently under-resourced and lacks the appropriate long-term funding in both the public and private sector in Nigeria”.

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National Cyber Security Centre

The CSEAN President opined that to build a resilient cyber security defence, the federal government must as a matter of urgency establish a National Cyber Security Centre that will be saddled with the responsibility of coordinating and implementing the National cyber security policy and strategy.

“Around the World new regulations are coming out and being adopted to protect personal data, responding to the ever-changing complex technological landscape.

“European Union General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) puts organizations under stricter obligations to be fairer and more transparent with the way personal data is being handled. The data mining episodes is just the beginning of series of data misuse, our failure to enact data protection law leaves citizens of Nigeria exposed to data breaches.

“Let us not forget, cybercriminals are stepping up their game and data breaches are increasingly common and devastating.

“That is why we need to act together. While cybercriminals are collaborating, sharing information and providing 24/7 support services in the dark web on various cybercrime activities ranging from malware creation, compromised passwords sale, zero-day vulnerabilities, the government and private sectors in Nigeria are working in silos. To adequately tackle cybercrime in Nigeria, the government must partner and engage with industry and cybersecurity organisations”, he said.

Cyber Secure Nigeria Conference has become an annual event; this year is the fifth of its kind and prepared participants through workshops, plenary, technical and breakout sessions on how to implement cybersecurity and data privacy practises in Nigeria.

The conference is packed with rich cyber security and data privacy topics to be delivered by distinguished speakers. I hope you will all enjoy the conference and bring home with you an unforgettable memory.

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