Nigeria’s slow arrival into the 21st century, by Confidence McHarry



At the heart of this slow arrival in the 21st century is the problem of leadership. Exactly one year ago, Nigeria’s Minister of Communications and Digital Economy Dr Isa Pantami oversaw Windows 7 … intended for use by government officials for video conferencing in 2020 despite a un 17 billion budget for his ministry in 2019. It is clear that the government does not understand the threat posed by cybercrime.

During what seemed like a terrible week for the good guys campaigning against the dangers of cybercrime, Colonial Pipeline paid a $ 5 million ransom to an organized criminal gang to recover data held hostage during a ransomware attack. In addition, the Irish healthcare system was taken out of service, also by a ransomware attack. The Colonial Pipeline (owned by Colonial Group, a gas company in the United States), which acts as a critical artery for the delivery of gasoline and aircraft fuel to the east coast of the United States, was closed on 7 May as a result of a ransomware attack by a hacking group. named DarkSide. The shutdown resulted in a spike in gasoline prices amid panic buying. In some places, oil and gasoline shortages have even been reported.

Ransomware is a type of malware that threatens to publish victim’s data or perpetually block access to such data unless a ransom is paid, usually in cryptocurrency.

These are nightmares, not only for private companies, but also for many governments around the world and their military forces. The attack, fueled by Darkside’s claim to just want to make money, not to disrupt or harm anyone, prompted President Joe Biden to issue one of the longest executive orders this week, for tackle the threat posed by cybercriminals, in particular to critical infrastructure such as public health facilities.

There are a lot of things to take away from the situation for us in Nigeria. Cybersecurity has been an important word in the lexicon of social communications ever since the internet age became ascendant. Similarly, the threat of Internet fraud, known in Nigerian parlance as “Yahoo”, has taken a prominent place among the country’s teeming unemployed youth population. The stereotype of Nigerians around the world as fraudsters has its roots in this.

The dilemma here is this: For much of our filing system in public institutions that has yet to embrace the technology, the threat of an attack like the one on Colonial Pipeline gives them that relative security provided by what ‘a technician like Cheta Nwanze calls for an air vacuum.

The theory that poverty is the cause of the glorification of crime and its practice was tested this week when Abidemi Rufai, an assistant to Ogun State Governor Dapo Abiodun, was arrested by the FBI in the States. United for theft of COVID-19 from US government relief packages after gaining access to the social security numbers of thousands of Americans. It is an established fact that a number of wealthy Nigerians are also involved in this “turmoil” for a few motivators aside from poverty.

The attack on Colonial Pipeline portends a dilemma that should never have been. Public hospitals in Nigeria (I can only speak for Lagos and Abuja from my own personal experience) have only seen the importance of computerized health records very recently. I visited Maitama General Hospital in Abuja two weeks ago and found the attendant using an older version of the Microsoft Windows operating system to save a patient’s record. While it was not exactly clear which version of the Microsoft desktop the operator was using, it was very evident that the model was much older than Windows 7, an operating system that Microsoft stopped supporting in 2015, it six years ago!

At the heart of this slow arrival in the 21st century is the problem of leadership. Exactly one year ago, Nigeria’s Minister of Communications and Digital Economy Dr Isa Pantami oversaw Windows 7 (the same unsupported operating system) intended for use by government officials to videoconferencing in 2020 despite a budget of 17 billion euros for his ministry in 2019. It is clear that the government does not understand the threat posed by cybercrime. The dilemma here is this: For much of our filing system in public institutions that has yet to embrace the technology, the threat of an attack like the one on Colonial Pipeline gives them that relative security provided by what ‘a technician like Cheta Nwanze calls for an air vacuum. But this sense of security is fleeting due to our disregard for collecting and protecting data, which not only makes obtaining information tedious, but opens avenues for senseless corruption. The question from there is, are we ready to move into the 21st century with all the cybersecurity baggage or stay in the Stone Age that makes data difficult to collect?

The importance of government distancing is that in the future, with the influx of new technologies by the minute, in this current decade, Anonymous Central or Yahoo Boys with dyed hair and iPhones, would be the least of their problems. in the face of massive cybercrime. . Now is the time to innovate.

From Pantami’s actions, forgetting that Microsoft no longer offers support for Windows 7, it is clear that the government is unwilling to lead the fight against cybercrime as it is content to quit the Crimes Commission Economic and Financial Affairs (EFCC) to focus on Internet fraudsters. One of the lessons of last year’s #EndSARS protests is that we can’t count on the government to lead this fight, especially since it was easy for Anonymous Central – a world-renowned ethical hacking group. – publish sensitive data on police officers around the world. the country. It’s been about ten months since this data breach, but unlike in the United States where President Biden took action by introducing an executive order, which sets ambitious goals and strategies as a means of extraordinary consolidation of the various responses to cyber attacks. that have hit the United States has been particularly difficult in recent months, as has the deployment of Deputy National Security Advisor Anne Neuberger to lead the government’s response to the ransomware attack on Colonial, We Do have yet to see similar actions from the Buhari administration.

As a result, the burden – awareness and awareness – is led by the private sector. The importance of government distancing is that in the future, with the influx of new technologies by the minute, in this current decade, Anonymous Central or Yahoo Boys with dyed hair and iPhones, would be the least of their problems. in the face of massive cybercrime. . Now is the time to innovate.

Confidence McHarry is an analyst at SBM Intelligence.

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