The Federal Government of Nigeria is discussing the modalities for implementation of the new National Cybersecurity Policy and Strategy (NCPS) 2021.

The Policy and Strategy is said to be a framework that aims to strengthen cybersecurity governance and coordination and foster a trusted cyber environment that optimizes Nigeria's cybersecurity readiness and coordination capacities towards addressing the nation's cyber risk exposure.

This new policy is a review of the 2014 edition of the same, designed to realign the nation’s cybersecurity efforts to effectively confront the dynamic and emergent nature of threats in the country’s cyberspace.

With over 104 million active internet users coupled with the local innovations that have made Nigeria one of the leading digitally connected countries on the continent and the prevailing challenges that come with cyber penetration, this review has become very important. Here are few things you should know about this policy:

To effectively carve this policy, these seven have been identified as the major cyber threats that the country is facing:

  • Cyber-terrorism
  • Cybercrime
  • Online child abuse
  • Election interference
  • Online gender exploitation
  • Pandemic induced cyber threats

What are Nigeria’s cyber vulnerabilities and strengths?

To ensure risk assessment, the National Cybersecurity Coordination Centre (NCCC) identified some of the areas that are the weaknesses of the nation’s cyberinfrastructure. The Centre admits that the country relies largely on foreign ICT solutions, therefore, citing research and development and human resource capacity as some of the weaknesses.

Aside from these, low awareness about cybersecurity is also a limitation as opposed to the fast-growing pace of cyber threats.

However, the Centre stated that the local private sector is well informed and proactive in the global cyber security market. Thereby, enabling multi-stakeholders engagements in the sector.

What’s the Policy’s Direction?

The policy is hinged on protecting national security, strengthening economic development and fighting corruption. This is because the security and wellbeing of citizens are equally important in the cyber and physical domains, and cybersecurity is also a critical enabler in economic progression and other national priorities.

Hence the need for the 12 pillars will create the foundation of delivery and possible collaboration between stakeholders. The pillars are:

  • Enhancing cyber defence capability
  • Enhancing international cooperation
  • Promoting a thriving digital economy
  • Assurance monitoring and evaluation
  • Strengthening the legal and regulatory framework
  • Enhancing cyber security incident management
  • Strengthen cybersecurity governance and coordination
  • Fostering protection of critical and national information infrastructure

Critical Sectors

In fostering the protection of critical national information infrastructure, the policy identifies the following as ‘critical sectors':

  • Water
  • Health
  • Education
  • Transport
  • Public Administration
  • Defence and Security
  • Banking, Finance and Insurance
  • Safety and Emergency Services
  • Information, Communication, Science and Technology, amongst others

Aside from this, the policy explored the legal and regulatory framework of cybersecurity with keen attention to internet safety and child online protection. Also, the establishment of the National Digital Forensics Laboratory under the NCCC is mentioned as one of the strategies to be implemented to enable the war against various cyber threats.

Experts React.

Per an interview with Arise News monitored by this Reporter, Olusola Teniola, the immediate past president of the Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria and the member of the Cybersecurity Advisory Council said, ‘the policy is designed to curtail cyber threats and  ensure the protection on the nation’s assets in the digital infrastructure’

Mr Tenisola stated that ‘the document highlights how Nigeria will address these potential threats with the introduction of emerging technologies like the 5G, artificial intelligence, machine learning amongst others’.

To Ruth Sunday Ki, a criminologist, beyond curbing the menace of cybercrime and its prevalence in Nigeria, the NCPS will serve as a guide to how experts can build stronger systems to easily identify cyber threats.

Miss Ruth told benjamindada.com that aside from mentioning the cyber vulnerabilities of Nigeria, the document also provides strategies on how to resist these attacks.

‘The content of the document, if wholly implemented, will go a long way in helping the fight against Cybercrime’, she said.