In a speech recently delivered by Your Excellency, at the Silver Jubilee and graduation of 133 military and para-military participants of the Course 25 of the National Defense College, Abuja, you challenged our Military Institution, that if militants, terrorist groups and internet hackers are constantly re-inventing themselves taking advantage of emerging technologies, you have no reason whatsoever not to be at the cutting edge of technological warfare.
Your Excellency, the increasing attack by the terrorist groups and the dangerous trends on fake news and cyber warfare debate has underscore the need to prioritize the implementation of our National Cybersecurity Strategy as part of the critical component of our National Security and Counter-Terrorism Strategies. Whether we like it or not, the increasing terrorist asymmetry attack will continue to diversify and intensify, leading to the securitization of the national economic agenda.
Unfortunately, in a similar scenario, the International security policies and global economic dialogues have finally been shifted towards Cybersecurity. At the moment, emerging global economic partnership and transnational trade deals are being cyber-securitized, and the developing countries, including our beloved Country are trapped unaware.
For instance, there are divergences within the international community on whether the cyberspace, and in particular that the Internet should be a sphere of peace and development, and not a theatre for military operations, and the impending tension on possibilities of invocation of the UN Article 51 which is equivalent to recognition that cyberspace can become a battlefield, including explicit reference to the principles of the International Humanitarian Law (IHL) which is known as the “law of war.”
There is growing resentment on the implication of the invocation of Article 51 in the context of ICT, when a State is under “armed attack” classifying a malicious use of ICT as being equivalent to an “armed attack” without a global multi-lateral consensus and commitment, alongside the challenges on cyber attribution issue in this context remain a serious threat to global peace and the future of our country.
There are other incidents from private cyberwar, darknet, cyber-surveillance and espionage concurrently challenging the integrity of our national economic and security intelligence, and protection of our online investments. These incidents are exploiting systems and human vulnerabilities around the world. This is the rationale for the forthcoming global Internet main session on ‘’Empowering Global Cooperation on Cybersecurity for Peace and Development’’ to be organized by the United Nations Secretariat General Office of the Internet Governance forum at the Global Internet Governance Forum, from 18-21 December in Geneva, Switzerland, at the United Nations Office at Geneva (UNOG). (www.integovforum.org).
I must commend President Buhari’s administration for inaugurating the establishment of Cybercrime Advisory Council in line with the provision of Cybercrime (Prevention, Prohibition..etc) Act 2015. However, your administration needs to do more by acting swiftly, before the next national elections, implementing comprehensive national cybersecurity assessment on critical economic and information infrastructures, setting up National Cybersecurity Coordination Centre, and cybersecurity readiness programs in line with our National Cybersecurity Policy and Strategy 2015. The policy document itself needs to be reviewed to resonate well with the current and future cyber-economic and security realities.
Your Excellency, Cybercrime is perverse and remains a critical threat to our nascent democracy as we move toward 2019 elections. We should be reminded of what happened in the last US Presidential elections and in other countries, where cyber-fake news is now a powerful tool to shape the opinion of the electorates and the public. Proactive preventive measures are better implemented and coordinated now than to respond to sudden large scale cyberattacks with near zero capability.
2017 is a decisive year for the county, a time the Federal Government unveils its multi-year National Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP), when the world is fighting hunger and poverty through the UN Global Development agenda, and a decisive time the International community is seeking to shape our digital future amid the escalating incidences of global hack attack and social media malaises. In my upcoming publication on ‘’Global Digital Direction, From now to the future, Which Way Nigeria? ’’ I made a solemn contention that while we are battling with the growing concerns on political extremism and sectional conflicts fuelled by the online fake news, with crypto-currency revolution, cybercrime, and youth unemployment, other nations will be taking position, through digital diplomacy, to consolidate their digital annexation of Cyberspace.
It is not too late. Nigeria is still a special country of interest in a matter relating to shaping regional economy and strengthening democratic institutions in Africa. Our country has a largest growing economic and active presence on the Internet in Africa. The current global trade policies such as Trans Pacific Partnership has redefined international trade around cybersecurity, data protection and cross boarder digital data flow which will have unprecedented trade impact on our ability to negotiate a fair trade deal with other countries in the world. The real trade war is commencing and we must act now before it is too late.
It is notable that huge transnational economic activities, including critical information infrastructure are at high risk without proportionate cybersecurity measures. More so, it is a known fact that if Nigeria is under cyberattack, it would affect other nation’s interest directly or indirectly.
Your Excellency, please note, implementing a comprehensive national cybersecurity program will empower our Military institutions, create massive jobs and will help fast track innovative growth and the diversification of our economy. A digitally vulnerable economy create opportunity for a strategic intervention. Learning from the recent UK approach, we can become cybersecurity exporting nation by identifying gaps, implementing necessary measures, re-negotiating our regional trade deal, empowering our institutions, promoting and engaging our young professionals to develop cybersecurity industry. A national gap analysis obtain from conducting National Cybersecurity Assessment alone can create direct over 2000 jobs with multiplier effect on the labour market. We have what it take to achieve it.
Your Excellency, we will continue to engage your administration until government listen, respond and appropriately allocate resources for investing in this critical intervention of our National life. Your administration should prioritize on National Cybersecurity Programs along with other economic and developmental agenda before it is too late.
Wishing Your Excellency a successful steering of our national digital ship.
Olusegun H. Olugbile
UN IGF Advisor & Member Cybercrime Advisory Council