IoTs and Combating Nigeria’s Security Challenges, by Zeenat Sambo
As Nigeria’s insecurity challenge continues to defy all measures put in place to curtail its spread, then stakeholders should start looking at other alternatives being offered by technology, one of which is the application of the Internet of Things (IoT).
IoT is the network of billions of physical devices connected to the internet and equally used to share data.
The integration of IoTs in new technologies to combat security is expected to advance and equally revolutionize human technological operations in managing the communication program involved effectively. This is to ensure that the IoTs are utilized in such a manner that does not pose any threat to national security when used in combating crimes and insecurity.
To that effect, the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Prof. Isa Ibrahim Pantami disclosed that Nigeria’s telecoms regulatory framework has since been designed to address the challenges that may arrive with the advancement of the IoTs in the country.
The Minister spoke at the twin events Stakeholders Consultative Forum on Regulatory Roadmap for IoTs Ecosystem in Nigeria, hosted by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC). He noted that Nigeria has over the last two years demonstrated efforts in curbing cybercrimes.
A recent report by International Data Corporation (IDC) forecasts that by 2025 there will be 41.6 billion connected IoTs, thus expecting smart homes and wearables to grow rapidly.
Although IoT had existed since the 90s, recent advances in technology have made it more practical. It enables access to affordable and reliable sensors, increases the availability of cloud computing platforms, and advances in machine learning and Artificial Intelligence (AI) technologies.
There are so many varieties of IoT devices such as smartphones, medical devices, light bulbs, satellites, routers, refrigerators, smart televisions, smart video pen recorders, spy GPS and audio recorder device trackers, security alarm systems, body-worn cameras, etc.
IoT devices can range from simple household appliances to sophisticated industrial tools and military equipment. An example is a light bulb that can be switched on/off via a smartphone app, motion sensor, or a smart thermostat in offices and connected streetlights. With unique identifiers for each IoT component (UID), it enables them to transmit data without human assistance.
The developed nations’ use of IoT has over time strengthened their security forces and protected their territories. In Nigeria, the use of IoT devices for security purposes, such as intruder detection, web cameras, and war machines with censors to automate as operated has re-emphasized the need to recognize its rightful use for cyber protection.
The persistently increasing security challenges bedeviling Nigeria are enough to necessitate the use of the Internet of Military Things (IoMTs) for national security.
These IoMTs refer to the IoT used for combat operations and warfare, like surveillance robots and human-wearable biometrics for combat. Essentially, it is a network of interconnected entities which communicate continuously with each other to coordinate, learn, and handle a wide range of activities in an informed and efficient way.
Accordingly, experts have opined that a large part of the IoMTs concept is driven by the belief that future battles will likely take place in urban areas and be dominated by machine intelligence and cyber warfare.
Thus, the IoMTs are conceptually designed to offload much of the physical and mental burden that warfighters face during combat by creating a miniature ecosystem of smart technology capable of distilling sensory information and autonomously managing multiple tasks.
Some ICT tools for tackling insecurity are GSM, Camera, Satellite, Radio, Closed-circuit television (CCTV), cellular LTE (Long-Term Evolution), Video surveillance cameras, and other military devices for security measures.
In addition, drones are often used by the military for reconnaissance, surveillance, and targeted attacks. With the new advancement in these technologies, it is evident that cybersecurity needs to be regulated to avoid manipulation of the IoTs in the ecosystem.
Recent weapons like MH-6 Little Bird, Bradley Fighting Vehicle, M9 Armored Combat Earthmover, Bayraktar, and TAI Aksungur used on the war front also have inbuilt sensors that enable human-to-machine communication and effectively spotting targets to combat.
Others include Satellite and Computer-Based Public Security Communications Systems (PSCS) and Public Safety Networks (PSNs) systems which are dedicated telecommunication networks used for communications by agencies such as the police, fire department, ambulance service, and others.
As a result of the IoT ecosystem’s characteristics, malicious actors have over time manipulated information flow between networked devices. It is becoming increasingly difficult to protect important processes once performed manually from malicious cyber activity.
The Nigerian military and paramilitary intelligence have over time tried to ensure that attack vectors are secretly looked in to avoid cyber-attacks on their armories.
Recall that, to safeguard the ICT sector in Nigeria, the federal government formulated the National Cybersecurity Strategy in 2014 to confront the threats, uphold and support the openness of cyberspace as well as balance security concerning privacy and fundamental rights.
All in all, in order to avert further security breaches, it has become duty-bound for all security operatives in Nigeria to adopt the use of IoTs/IoMTs equipment in fighting insecurity across the lengths and breadths of the country.
Nevertheless, the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) and other stakeholders should promote and support startups that develop solutions for tackling insecurity in the country and also ensure the empowerment of security personnel with digital technology skills to enable them to leverage emerging technologies to solve national security challenges.
Zeenat Sambo writes from Wuye District Abuja