Buhari seeks overhaul of national strategy on cyber security

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Says internet must be used for nat’l security, economic progress

By Johnbosco Agbakwuru – Abuja

President Muhammadu Buhari has tasked the National Security Adviser, NSA, Babagana Monguno to continue to coordinate the efforts of all stakeholders to ensure that the Internet and cyberspace are used for the enhancement of national security and economic progress of the country.

This was as he called for an overhaul of the national strategy on cybersecurity, urging more emphasis on exploring the internet for economic growth opportunities, enhancement of knowledge, and mitigation of crime.

The president, who according to a statement, Tuesday evening by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, spoke at the launch of the National Cybersecurity Policy and Strategy (NCPS) 2021, expressed optimism that “together, we can pave the way for the creation of new opportunities to usher Nigeria into a bright future driven by a prosperous cyberspace and digital economy.’’

“I urge the National Security Adviser to continue to coordinate the efforts of all stakeholders to ensure that our Internet and cyberspace are used for the enhancement of national security and economic progression,’’ the President said at the launch of the National Cybersecurity Policy and Strategy (NCPS) 2021.

“I am confident that, together, we can pave the way for the creation of new opportunities to usher Nigeria into a bright future driven by a prosperous cyberspace and digital economy,” the statement quoted the president to have said.

According to the statement,”The President noted that the Federal Government had taken some major policy decisions to increase penetration of the internet in the daily lives of citizens, particularly for the utilitarian purpose, with the launch of National Broadband Plan 2020 – 2025 in March 2020; National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy 2020 – 2030; National Identity Program, Treasury Single Account, and Bank Verification Number schemes.”

“All these initiatives serve as enablers for tackling many of the economic and security challenges facing our country while also providing us with the platform to improve accountability and transparency in our unwavering resolve to tackle corruption.

“However, like many other countries across the globe, the growth and development of the internet is accompanied by significant problems. We are witnessing a   rise in threats posed by cybercriminals,   online financial fraudsters, and cyber terrorists who use the internet to cause apprehension,’’ the President said.

He added that the internet and social media have witnessed a surge in the propagation of hate speech, fake news, seditious and treasonable messages, as well as the risks of breaches to personal information and government sensitive data.

“It is almost impossible to overstate the challenges. Some global events such as the rapid emergence of new technologies, the outbreak of the   COVID-19   pandemic, and the advent of   5G technology, have further widened the scope and diversification of these cyber threats.

“In October 2020, we all witnessed an escalation in the use of the social media for dissemination of subversive messages and incitement of violence which played a part in heightening tensions, causing unrest and   spurring   widespread   acts   of   looting   and   destruction   across   the country.’’

President Buhari said the Federal Government had been proactive,   over the past couple of years,   in taking steps to ensure progressive use of the internet and cyberspace.

“In 2014, the maiden National Cybersecurity Policy and Strategy was developed to provide the necessary roadmap for the realisation of our national cybersecurity programme. This national effort paved way for Nigeria to reach numerous cybersecurity milestones   over the past six years.

“Therefore,  in   order  to  build  on   this   achievement   and  reposition ourselves for enhanced engagement in cyberspace, it became expedient to   review   the   National   Cybersecurity   Policy   and   Strategy   2014   and develop  a  comprehensive  National   Cybersecurity  Policy  and   Strategy 2021 for the common good of our country.’’

According to the President, the National Cybersecurity Policy and Strategy 2021 will provide us with the necessary platform to effectively confront the dynamic nature of threats in our cyberspace.

“The document will also provide the framework that would enable us to harness the efforts of our private sector, academia, and industry towards progressive economic and national development.

“To this end, the document will provide the platform for technical education,   digital   skills   acquisition, and   indigenous  technology production,   thereby   creating   job   opportunities   for   our   youth   and supporting our resolve to alleviate poverty and boost our economy.’’

In his remarks at the event, the National Security Adviser, Maj. Gen. Babagana Monguno (rtd), said there had been a surge in the use of the internet, especially during the COVID-19 lockdown around the world, with increasing waves of crimes, irregular migration, and threats to border security.

The NSA noted that many platforms including banking, communication, and military had come under more threat, with personal information easily distorted and explored, necessitating a review of the 2014 National Cybersecurity Policy and Strategy (NCPS).

He said the reviewed document will work towards mitigating the “suffocating presence and unpredictable threats’’ of cybercrimes.

Vanguard News Nigeria

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