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Online threats to Nigeria on the rise – Minister

Everest Amaefule, Abuja

Cyber-related threats to Nigeria and the West African region are increasing in number, type and sophistication, the Minister of Communication, Mr Adebayo Shittu, has said.

Shittu said this at the Second Legislative-Stakeholders Conference on Cyber-security, which was hosted by the Senate Committee on ICT and Cybercrime in Abuja.

The minister also disclosed that the ministry was working with stakeholders to roll out a new strategy for management of cyber threats across the country.

He also disclosed that the ministry was working with the Office of the National Security Adviser and the National Assembly to reinforce or build international norms to regulate adverse state behaviour on the cyberspace.

He said, “Cyber is no doubt, the new frontier. Conflict is no longer restricted to the physical world, and cyber is opening up new opportunities for nation states to challenge one another.

“Keeping Nigerians safe, secure and free is our most fundamental responsibility. We are building strong defence and resilient communities by leveraging on ICTs. We are introducing, for example, transparency scheme and counter-intelligence legislation with the ONSA to bolster our defences against foreign interference.

“We will continue to partner the National Assembly and ONSA to impose sanctions on those that undermine our interests and global security on the cyberspace. One of the most important principles underpinning the rules-based order is that nations must resolve their differences peacefully through negotiations.”

He added, “We are currently working with ONSA for safer and resilient communities. We are partnering ONSA to ensure the full implementation of this policy framework and national action plan.

“Nigeria, like all nations, is increasingly reliant on the Internet in many aspects of our society and the economy. We are building strong cyber defences.  Nigeria can and will respond to, and deter cyber aggression, whatever the source and whatever the intent, including through an offensive cyber capability. However, our emphasis is on enabling effective regulation of the Internet to keep it open, free and secure.

“We will continue to partner ONSA to build capacity to benefit from the Internet, to secure it, and to engage with international rule-making. The cyber ecosystem has been ‘weaponised’ and manipulated to devastating effect to undermine democratic processes, influence voting in elections and whip up tension and divisions between and among societal groups.”

Shittu lamented that kidnapping, which is already a scourge in the Nigerian physical space, was also becoming a problem in the virtual realm as ‘cyber-kidnapping’ of encrypted data posed a clear and present danger to our economic viability.

According to the minister, the Ministry of Communications, in conjunction with relevant stakeholders, is coming up with an essential and effective cyber-security management strategy based on existing legislative frameworks, while building on the work already being done by bodies like the Cybercrime Advisory Council.

He also said that the ministry was collaborating with the National Identity Management Commission on the strategic roadmap for identity ecosystem for Nigeria, adding that a cyber-security assessment of the ID ecosystem would soon be conducted.

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