CYBERSECURITY CHALLENGES IN NIGERIA: THE WAY FORWARD – Oforji, Jerome C, Udensi, Ezinne J. and Ibegbu Kelechi C.

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Summary: Cybersecurity is an important part of protecting and securing the country’s institutions and enterprises. With the recent growing number of cyber-attacks, small, medium, and large company in the country must improve their cybersecurity. The importance of cybersecurity cannot be overemphasised given the growing reliance on computer systems and the Internet, as well as wireless networks such as Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, and the creation of “smart” gadgets.


ABSTRACT

Cybersecurity is the guard of cyberspace and other associated technologies, from records
and electronic data to the physical structures and security systems. Cybersecurity in Nigeria
is a vital aspect of protecting/guarding the organizations and businesses in the country. It is
imperative for every small, medium and large scale businesses organization in the country to
strengthen their cybersecurity. Cybersecurity is of rising significance. The importance of
cybersecurity is as a result of the increasing dependence on computer systems and the
Internet, wireless networks like Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, and the development of “smart” devices,
as part of the Internet of Things. This paper, however, looks at the cybersecurity, its
challenges in the country and it also made several recommendations on the way forward such
as the need for the ethical hackers, education on the ethics of using the internet and enacting
laws to guard against various types of cyber and internet-related crimes.

INTRODUCTION

The world as we have today is fast evolving into a global village. This is due to the
dynamism of the internet and technology. Virtually every aspect of our human lives including
economic growth, commerce, governance, communication, exchange of ideas, education,
research and development, banking, and financial transactions currently runs in the
cyberspace. However, the activities of cyber-thieves or hackers are increasingly becoming
more and more sophisticated every day, and these activities pose an enormous security threats
to the internet and information abound in the cyberspace. (Lucas, 2017). Cybersecurity is the
protection or guarding of computer systems against theft or harm to the hardware, software or
information, as well as from interruption or misleading and incorrect commands of the
services they offer. (Gasser, 1988)
According to CYBERPEDIA (2017), Cybersecurity is the preventive method or
approach used to guard the integrity and reliability of networks, programs, and data from
damage, attack, or unauthorized access. It includes protecting information and systems
against fundamental cyber threats, like cyber terrorism, cyber warfare, and cyber espionage.
Cybersecurity refers to the set of technologies, procedures, and applications aimed to protect
networks, computers, programs, and data from attack, damage or unauthorized access. In a
computing perspective, security includes both cybersecurity and physical security.
(WhatIs.com, 2016)
Providing cybersecurity needs coordinated and matching efforts all over an
information system. Essentials of cybersecurity include:

  • Application security
  • Information security
  • Network security
  • Disaster recovery/business continuity planning
  • Operational security
  • End-user education (WhatIs.com, 2016)

Cybersecurity involves controlling or modulating physical access to the hardware and
guarding against any damage that may approach through network access, data and code
injection (Ziff, 2015). Moreover, as a result of misconduct by operators, be it intentional,
accidental, IT security is vulnerable to being deceived into drifting from secure procedures
via several means. (Rouse, 2015)
The purpose of cybersecurity is to sustain system confidentiality, integrity, and
availability.
System confidentiality will be attained as information is made accessible and available only
to authorized users.
System integrity is when an information system will function as designed or intended.
System availability is to a system’s capability to function as required in a well-timed manner.
(NACCHO, 2015)

The Challenges of Cybersecurity in Nigeria

According to the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (2014), Africa is going
through numerous Internet-related challenges with concerning security risk, intellectual
property breach and security of personal data. Nigeria as a country is not an exception.
Cybercriminals aim at people within and outside their national borders, and various African
governments do not have the technical and the financial capability to mark and supervise
electronic communications believed to be sensitive for national security.
Challenges of cybersecurity include:

  • Lesser security availability adequate to avert and manage technological and informational threat.
  • Deficiency of technical know-how regarding cybersecurity and failure to watch or monitor and secure national networks, making Nigeria and several African countries susceptible to cyber espionage, and incidences of cyber terrorism.
  • Failure to develop and improve the required cybersecurity legal structure to battle cybercrime.
  • Cybersecurity issues are extensive in scope than national security concerns. However, little major significant cybersecurity measures in Nigeria and even in Africa have its implementation done. Cybersecurity is a serious concern that needs absolute tackling.
  • There is also a necessity to develop an information society that respects values, rights, and freedoms and assures same access to information, even as stirring up the establishment of genuine knowledge that can put up assurance and confidence in the use of ICTs in Nigeria.
  • Limited levels of consciousness of ICT-related security concerns by stakeholders, like ICT regulators, law enforcement agencies, the judiciary, information technology professionals and users. (United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, 2014)

Other challenges include:

  • Domestic and international law enforcement
  • Unemployment and Poverty Rate
  • Corruption
  • Lack of Standards and National Central Control
  • Lack of Infrastructure
  • Lack of National Functional Databases
  • Proliferation of Cybercafés and Porous Nature of the Internet (Ibikunle, 2013).

According to Uwaje (2009), the challenges of battling cybercrime by law enforcement
agencies are divided into three categories:
a) Technical challenges that hamper law enforcement’s ability to locate and prosecute
criminals operating online.
b) Legal challenges as a result of laws and legal devices needed to investigate and
examine cybercrime covering technological structural, and social changes.
c) Operational challenges to ascertaining that we have developed a network of welltrained, well-equipped investigators and prosecutors who work together with
astonishing pace – even over country’s borders.


Tackling cybersecurity challenges in Nigeria
According to Ibikunle (2013), Cybersecurity has grown to become a national issue as risk
about it now requires to be taken more seriously. The big question is “How ready is Nigeria
to tackle the challenges of cyber securities and fight cybercrime. The diagram below shows
cybersecurity readiness report for Africa.

One of the most critical ways of tackling the challenges of cybersecurity and ensuring
adequate cybersecurity is through ethical hacking. Cybersecurity via ethical hacking plays a
significant part in the development of telecommunication industry, and Internet services
(Odinma, 2010). Improving cybersecurity and guarding vital information infrastructures are
essential to national security and economic well-being (Odinma, 2010). An ethical hacker is
a networking expert who systematically tries to break in a computer system or

telecommunication network on behalf of its owners to find security vulnerabilities that a
malicious hacker could exploit (Okonigene & Adekanle, 2009).
Ethical hackers use the same techniques to analyze and evade a system’s defenses as
their less-principled counterparts, but instead of taking advantage of any vulnerability
discovered, they take note of them and present a recommendation on how to fix them so the
organization can improve its security (Laura, 1995). Therefore, raising and training ethical
hackers will provide a level of safety measures in the cyberspace.
Tackling the challenges of cybersecurity in Nigeria requires education to train IT and
internet specialists, the creation of forums and program for the youths to acquaint them with
the ethics of using the internet and also. Others measures of ensuring cyber security and
tackling its challenges in Nigeria include; the use of Address Verification System (AVS),
Interactive Voice Response (IVR), IP Address tracking, the use of antivirus, anti-spyware
software, use of firewall and intrusion detection systems and cryptography. (Ibikunle, 2013).

CONCLUSION

The present security structure and the risk setting is unfavorable to National Security and
economic growth, and have developed past the modern-day area of land, sea, air, and space.
The Cyberspace has brought in innovative opportunities with its security challenges. With the
increasing accessibility and use of internet services, threats and dangers in the cyberspace
have also increased considerably. Criminals are breaking into homes and offices without
breaking doors and windows but by breaking into laptops, Personal Computers and wireless
devices via the internet. The universal economic loss as a result of cybercrimes and cost of
systems repairs and maintenance due to cyber threats and attacks runs into billions of naira
each year. Cybersecurity needs to be critically tackled as it is affecting and denting the image
of the country in the outside world.


Recommendation(s):

The various recommendations suggested include the following;

  • There is the need to train and have an ethical hacker in various firms and organizations that connect to the internet.
  • There is the need to educate internet users especially the youths on the ethics of using the internet.
  • Organizations using the internet need to update their anti-virus software, firewall and use intrusion detection system (IDS) regularly.
  • Firms and institutions need to insist on the use of BVN by their staff especially those managing their finances. The use of BVN will to enable them monitor and eliminate the cases of money siphoning by such individuals.
  • The government should enact strong laws to guard against cyber threats, cyber terrorism, cyberbullying and all cyber and internet related offenses.

Source: Umaru Ali Shinkafi Polytechnic Sokoto

Keywords: Cybersecurity, cybercrime, cyber threat, cyberspace, internet, ICT

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