The Director General of the National Information and Technology Development Agency, NITDA, Kasheem Inuwa, says the digital economy when implemented will make Nigeria globally competitive.
Inuwa made the remark at the opening ceremony of the Information Assurance Workshop organized by the National Information Technology and Development Agency, NITDA in conjunction with the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, SGF.
He said the digital economy is estimated at 22.5% of the world’s economy and yet has not been fully exploited, even as the Digital investments have growth multiplier effect in national GDP, where it increases the national economic output.
He however, added that the growth and potential of the digital economy depends on the trust on the Internet and in cyberspace
The NITDA boss, who was represented by the Director of Information Technology and Infrastructure Solutions Department, ITIS, Dr. Usman Gambo Abdullahi, noted that the increasing use of digital technologies is continually exposing sensitive information and critical systems to risks and threats in the cyberspace. And for this reason, Cyber criminals not only try to gain control over our infrastructure, they also try to steal personal information, official data and mislead citizens with fake news.
‘‘Government and industries migrate online and find effective ways of reaching out to citizens and finding efficient ways of carrying out their businesses. These activities are majorly dependent on use of data; it’s either data is created, collected, stored or analyzed. Data is a critical asset to the digital economy as such a critical target for cyber criminals.
‘‘The boom in digital economy is delicately balanced with equivalent threats that could bring organisations and nations to their knees with colossal damage arising from financial and reputational losses to cybercriminals; hence government and industries need to enhance their cybersecurity in the wake of these evolving threats to online activities.
‘‘The Nigerian digital economy is known to account for up to 13.8% of the nation’s GDP. It is therefore obvious that the digital economy is a platform to increase the growth of the national economy. Little wonder the Federal Government in its proactive nature repositioned the Federal Ministry of Communications to tap into this growth possibility with the expansion of its portfolio to cover all activities that would harness the full potential of Nigeria’s digital economy.
‘‘The digital economy leverages on cyberspace, characterized with evolving cyber threats. Thus, cybersecurity is key to enable the growth and progress of the digital economy .Security privacy and trust are critical issues for a thriving digital economy. Government and industries need to employ measures enlist the trust and confidence or all stakeholders: the government, private sector and Individuals. This is one of the platforms for ensuring that everybody puts in the required amount of effort and commitment to ensuring trust building and dissuading the negatives of the criminals in a digital economy.’’
He said the workshop was planned to bring together efforts of all Government organisations to combat one of the growing threats to economies, personal and national security globally.
To address the growing cybersecurity threat, he said NITDA is using a multi-faceted approach: implementing new regulations, inspecting and examining regulated entities, providing support to its Constituents, collaboration with relevant stakeholders, sensitizing and educating both the industry and the public, conducting research and leveraging on collaborations to issue guidance on trending cybersecurity matters and mitigation strategies.
In terms of collaboration, Inuwa said the agency has established MOUs with national and international stakeholders including; Seoul National University and Cybersecurity Malaysia, KPMG and British High Commission, to mention a few. Also, a multi-stakeholder collaborative initiative for the implementation of the National Cyber Security Strategy, Plan and Act in MDAS is being embarked upon, at the instance of the Minister, Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy.
He called on all MDAs to commit to comply with the circular issued by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) on the implementation of one of the regulations by MDAS; the National Information Systems and Network Security Standards, all in a bid to ensure the security of data and technology systems in line with global best practices, and also to ensure a thriving digital economy where all stakeholders would have confidence and trust on.
In his presentation, Cybersecurity Expert, Dr. Kenneth Okereafor, called for the establishment of a single Coordinating Unit of all Cybersecurity activities in Nigeria such that this body can help in the operationalization and be held accountable when necessary.
‘‘This programme is a proposal to government to implement policies that will make our cyber space more secure. The reason is because in other climes, it is very easy to detect when attacks are coming in. We are looking at a situation where Nigeria as a country has a framework in place to detect cyber security breaches. Beyond that to also respond proactively.
‘‘One of the ways to do that is to have a single coordinating unit. Though, we may be having an agency regulating IT and Cybersecurity, it is also important to have people we can hold accountable such that these bodies can help in the operationalization around him. People are not aware of the various exposures that we have in terms of cybersecurity. And the only way to do that is to have constant training and retraining in cyber security,’’ said Okereafor.
‘‘Agencies of government need now to take cybersecurity education and awareness more seriously and because of the complexity of the data space that we operate in and enlargement and embrace of technology in so many areas, it now becomes imperative for agencies of government to be aware of the exposures and then take proper actions.
‘‘Legislation and for supporting cybersecurity can never be too much. We also as a country need to look into legislation to legitimize all the regulations that need to be applied in cybersecurity. To that extent, it is necessary for government to consider having more legal frameworks to backup other areas of cybersecurity.
‘‘We as a country need to define, develop and institutionalize frameworks to protect data each of these areas. We have a lot of frameworks, but we can harmonize them and begin to use them as a people. The Cybersecurity law though is in place needs to be strengthened,’’ he added.
In his own remarks, the Head of CyberSecurity Unit at NITDA, Dr. Wariowei Dimie explained that the Information Assurance Workshop was jointly organized by SGF and NITDA to educate heads of public institutions on the need to keep the confidentiality and integrity of all public information whenever and whoever that intends to have access to it.
He said, ‘‘We discovered that in public service the world over, cyber criminals are working very hard to steal information because there is value attached to data. Because the value of data is so importance, we are putting up this workshop to make sure that whatever data generated and made available in public service is kept safe from hackers.
‘‘We would make sure that there are certain regulations put in place are adhered to by MDAs, as stated in the circular circulated by the SGF.’’
On implementation, he said, ‘‘there is plan for monitoring and evaluations. ‘Circulars generated by SGF and HOS are usually structured in such a way that compliance can be monitored from the end of the organization and as well as the generating agency.’’