Enhancing Nigeria’s Cybersecurity with Artificial Intelligence
Among the major trends in technology is the rapid development of artificial intelligence and its wide range of applications. In addition to enhancing technological applications, artificial intelligence allows us to simulate and expand human intelligence.
As a technology, artificial intelligence has emerged as a critical component of complementing the efforts of human information security teams. Humans cannot adequately protect the dynamic attack surface of an organization alone. This is why artificial intelligence is becoming increasingly critical to cybersecurity professionals in order to reduce breach risk and improve security posture. It provides analysis and threat identification that is incredibly useful.
Cyber security has risen to become a national concern as threats concerning it now need to be taken more seriously. A wide variety of viewpoints have been expressed on the issue of cybercrime, with many people coming at it from diverse perspectives.
The threat of cyber-crimes has expanded beyond conventional criminal activity and has now posed a threat to the national security of all countries, including the most technologically advanced ones. Interestingly, cybercrime is not limited to a single sector but affects a wide range of industries. Among the nations targeted by cybercrime is Nigeria.
Read also: Cybersecurity: Pantami Emerges first African Fellow of Chartered Institute of Information Security (CIISec)
During the course of 2020, a Deloitte report ranked Nigeria 16th among the countries most affected by cybercrime worldwide. The Minister of Communication and Digital Economy, Professor Ali Isa Pantami in recent book, Cybersecurity Initiatives for Securing a Nation, provides insights on tackling insecurity on cyberspace.
As the trend of data breach and stealing of user information continues to rise, so does the need for advanced data protection methods. In the digital age, cyber security has evolved into a national concern due to the threat it poses to current and future generations. There has been a wide range of opinions expressed regarding cybercrime, with many individuals taking a diverse approach to the topic. There has been an increase in the number of cyber-crimes beyond conventional criminal activity, now posing a threat to national security in countries, including those that are the most technologically advanced. Interestingly, cybercrime is not limited to a single sector but affects a wide range of industries. Among the nations targeted by cybercrime is Nigeria.
Earlier this year, 2022, a Deloitte report ranked Nigeria 16th among the countries most affected by cybercrime worldwide. As with the case of Nigeria, cybercrimes have not only caused financial losses, damaged reputation but it has also led to devasting situations for victims of cybercrimes , crimes which have led to untimely deaths of innocent people, wrongful imprisonment caused by identity theft, among so many other disastrous consequences.
Now more than ever, the need for the revolutionary Artificial Intelligence cannot be overemphasised in tackling cyber security issues in Nigeria.
The establishment of The National Centre for Artificial Intelligence and Robotics (NCAIR) is one of NITDA’s subsidiary, a special purpose vehicle created to promote research and development on emerging technologies and their practical application in areas of Nigerian national interest, could not have come at a better time, as the rapid increase in cyberattacks in Nigeria is ever overwhelming .
NCAIR, a subsidiary of NITDA, and a research facility specifically focused on Artificial Intelligence could do more to implement the use of AI to effectively tackle cyber security issues. The delegation of AI to tackle cybercrimes in Nigeria would be a plus to the Nigerian image for solving one among several other issues .
Furthermore, cybersecurity posture analysis and improvement should no longer be a human-centric endeavour but rather than of an AI . Whether figuratively or literally, AI is like the non-human friend who lifts the burden off your shoulders and leaves you stress free. Putting this into consideration, Technology agencies like NCAIR and, other start-up tech organisations could try to leverage and maximise using AI to combat the dangerous menace of cybercrimes in Nigeria.
Moving on, Artificial intelligence which goes far beyond human intelligence, can and would be able to detect cyber threat in advance, something we humans would have limitations with. Secondly, Agencies like NITDA and particularly NCAIR have a huge role to play in ensuring the safety of innocent Nigerian citizens against from notorious hackers , menaces, and cyber threats to the society
To answer the main question , how would or AI be used to solve cybercrimes in Nigeria? As a security tool, AI can identify and prioritize risks, identify any malware on a network instantly, guide incident response, and prevent intrusions from occurring.
With artificial intelligence, cybersecurity teams can form powerful human-machine partnerships that enrich our lives, push the limits of our knowledge, and drive cybersecurity along a path that seems greater than the sum of its parts.
Additionally, AI used in cyber security to quickly analyse millions of events and identify many diverse types of threats – from malware exploiting zero-day vulnerabilities to identifying risky behaviour that might lead to a phishing attack or download of malicious code. As a self-learning system, this technology collects data from across your enterprise’s information systems automatically and continuously. This data is then analysed and used to perform a correlation of patterns across millions to billions of signals relevant to the enterprise attack surface to identify new types of attacks
More importantly, thanks to ever-evolving digital world which has created tools for more efficient ways of working and problem solving, there are several tools available that could be used improving cyber-safety . Tools such as :
· TAA tool (Symantec’s Targeted Attack analytics); which is targeted at finding and exposing hidden and targeted attacks. Using artificial intelligence and machine learning, Symantec security experts and researchers are able to enhance their executables, knowledge, and capabilities. It (TAA tool) was used by Symantec to tackle the Dragonfly 2.0 attack a few years back, attack majorly targeted several energy companies and tried to breach through and gain access to their operational networks.
Although the fight towards ending cybercrimes in Nigeria is not a month’s work that can lead to instant result, it is the effort that matter. Efforts which the office of National Security Advisor are putting in place by joining the Budapest convention on cybercrime sometime this year.
Finally, considering the importance, challenges and applications surrounding artificial intelligence in Nigeria, agencies like NITDA, NCAIR, ONSA as well as start-up tech and even big tech organisations in Nigeria have a huge role to play in minimising, better still eradicating the massive impact cybercrimes have left in our economy. The best way to solve a problem is always through education and enlightenment, a task which is tech companies have a huge role to play in, as security awareness is a collective effort
By Maryam Na-Allah Umar-Baba
Wuye District Abuja