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Experts Urge FG to Establish National Cyber Security Centre

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Experts, under the auspices of the Cyber Security Experts Association of Nigeria (CSEAN) have urged the Federal Government to establish a National Cyber Security Centre, saying it will ostensibly tackle the menace of cyber crimes in Nigeria.

 

They took this position as part of the resolutions reached at this year’s Cyber Secure Nigeria Conference, which was organised by CSEAN in Abuja, Nigeria’s Federal Capital Territory.

 

At the well-attended conference, which attracted security agencies and stakeholders from the public and private sector of the Nigeria’s economy, the experts advise that the National Cyber Security Centre should be saddled with the responsibility of coordinating and implementing the National cyber security policy and strategy.

 

Remi Afon, President of CSEAN, said “As people who should know in the field of cyber security, we believe that establishing a National Cyber Security Centre by the Federal Government, will help build a resilient cyber security defense for our country.”

 

Afon added that, unfortunately, cybersecurity in Nigeria is currently under-resourced and lacks the appropriate long-term funding in both the public and private sector. But going forward, the Federal Government needs to invest in research, whose findings will meet and response to cybersecurity threats in a timely fashion and to nurturing human resource capabilities.

 

This, he believe will form a basis of finding lasting solution to the menace of cyber security in Nigeria.

 

All over the world, new regulations are coming out and are being adopted to protect personal data, respond to the ever-changing complex technological landscape. Thus, the 3-day conference with the theme “Implementing Cybersecurity and Data Privacy Practices in Nigeria” was organised.

 

According to CSEAN, the conference will put organizations under stricter obligations to be fairer and more transparent to the way personal data are being handled, arguing that failure to enact data protection law leaves the citizens of Nigeria exposed to data breaches.

 

He noted that cybercriminals are stepping up their game and data breaches are increasingly common and devastating. “While cybercriminals are collaborating, sharing information and providing 24/7 support services in the dark web on various cybercrime activities ranging from malware creation, compromised passwords sale, zero-day vulnerabilities, the government and private sectors in Nigeria are working in silos,” he posited.

 

He suggests, to adequately tackle cybercrime in Nigeria, the government must partner and engage with industry and cybersecurity organisations.

 

Meanwhile, Nigeria’s Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo has said the best way to curtail cybercrime in Nigeria is for stakeholders to implement global best practices, saying it will ensure speedy implementation of requisite policies.

 

Osinbajo, who was represented at the conference by the Minister of Communications, Barr. Adebayo Shittu, added that there is a need to jointly work together and the menace of cyber crimes as nobody, including corporate entities are not immune.

 

“As a government, we believe that cyber security has come to us, as individual and national development increasingly rely on Information Communication Technology (ICT) to thrive,” he stated.

 

Cyber Secure Nigeria Conference has become an annual event; this year is the fifth of its kind and it aims to prepare participants through workshops, plenary, technical and breakout sessions on how to implement cybersecurity and data privacy practices in Nigeria.

 

The conference is packed with rich cyber security and data privacy topics to be delivered by distinguished speakers. I hope you will all enjoy the conference and bring home with you an unforgettable memory.

 

Ugo Onwuaso is an ICT enthusiast. He believes technology should be used for general good. He holds a Master of Public Administration (MPA) degree from the Lagos state University.

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Nigeria Ranks 5th Worst for SIM-Card Registration Laws

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Nigeria has been ranked as the 5th worst among over 150 countries by their SIM-card registration laws exploring data that is collected, what happens to the data and other restrictions such as number of SIM-cards allowed.

Nigeria Ranks 5th Worst for SIM-Card Registration Laws

A recent report by Comparitech, an organisation which compares tech services around the world, Nigeria was placed alongside countries where invasive biometric data is mandated for SIM card registration particularly for the reason that the length of time this data is held by the collating body is unknown or unclear.

The report found Nigeria scoring 13 out of a possible 20 (20 being the worst score) thanks to, among other things, the collection of biometric data.

With fresh reports that National Identification Numbers (NIN) may soon become necessary for SIM registrations, it is important to start asking how well the telcos and the industry regulatory agency, Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) have structured their agent networks to ensure sensitive data does not fall into wrong hands.

With more than 5.1 billion global mobile phone users accounting for some 70 percent of the world’s population, a number of governments have looked into implementing SIM-card registration laws to prove identity and collect user data, writes Comparitech.

Mandatory SIM-card registration with real name and personal details is necessary in most countries, but governments lack transparency when it comes to data use.

The laws for subscriber identification module (SIM) registration in Nigeria and fourteen other countries are considered the most invasive in the world, according to a new study by Comparitech, an online platform that provides tech research.

The study examines privacy in mobile phone usage in 150 countries and how national governments impose SIM-card registration laws to collect data on their citizens.

The report identifies the requirement of biometrics in the registration process as one of the factors that determine the level of intrusiveness of the laws.

Nigeria is among countries that currently have biometric registration laws.

According to Comparitech, SIM-card registration in Nigeria requires both fingerprints and a facial image.

Other countries with biometric requirement in the registration process are China, Tanzania, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Tajikistan, Thailand, Uganda, United Arab Emirates, Afghanistan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Benin, Oman, Pakistan, Peru, and Venezuela.

Tanzania is at the top of the ranking of countries with the worst SIM-card registration laws, scoring 19 points out of the maximum of 21 points. Next on the ranking is Saudi Arabia (17 points), followed by North Korea and Uganda (15 points each). Lebanon, Pakistan, Singapore, and Sri Lanka have a score of 14 points; while Nigeria, Bahrain, Bangladesh, China, Myanmar, Tajikistan, United Arab Emirates scored 13 points.

Other indicators used in the study to determine the level of intrusiveness of SIM-card registration laws include whether the data collected is stored by telecommunication providers or shared with government agencies; the requirement by law enforcement to gain access to the data; for how long the data is stored; and whether or not there are data privacy protection legislations.

Apart from biometrics, photo ID is a requirement to sign up for phone service in some countries. Other requirements are a permanent address, date of birth, nationality and gender.

“In China, anyone registering a new phone number now needs to submit a facial scan. This is also happening in Singapore,” said Paul Bischoff, a tech writer at Comparitech.

According to the report, while most countries require mandatory SIM-card registration, this requirement does not exist in about 45 countries and jurisdictions. Countries without mandatory SIM-card registration laws include United Kingdom, United States, Bahamas, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Cabo Verde, Canada, Croatia, Denmark, Finland, Hong Kong, Ireland, Israel, Mexico, Portugal, and Sweden.

Discussing how SIM-card registration threatens people’s privacy, Bischoff said, “Creating a database of citizens and their mobile numbers restricts private communications, increases the potential of them being tracked and monitored, enables governments to build in-depth profiles of their citizens, and risks private data falling into the wrong hands.”

Comparitech said mandatory SIM-card registrations also pose the risk of identity theft and abuse of data. Criminals can use someone else’s photo and personal information to sign up for a new SIM, potentially causing a lot of trouble for the impersonated individual.

The tech researchers also said without laws to protect registration data, people’s personal details can be shared with other third parties, such as advertisers and tax collection agencies.

Since 2011 when the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) launched its nationwide compulsory SIM card registration, the process has continued to unravel like a taut game of hide and seek between the commission, telcos and the millions of subscribers across the country.

From 2014 when the commission rejected the data of about 37.79 million subscribers citing inconsistencies in the collected data to 2019 when reports quoted the NCC as saying 63.2% of the total registered SIM card registrations in its database was invalid, a figure the commission denied.

Over the years, NCC has continuously embarked on awareness programmes urging Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) to sensitise their dealers/agents to desist from fraudulent SIM registration activities.

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Airtel Cleared to Increase Overseas Funding

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Bharti Airtel received approval to boost the percentage of overseas investment in the company to 100 per cent, a move which could help the third-largest mobile operator in India attract capital from outside the country.

Airtel Cleared to Increase Overseas Funding

In a stock market filing, the operator said the Department of Telecommunications gave it the green light to increase the limit of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) up to 100 per cent of its paid-up capital.

The previous limit was set at 49 per cent, with the operator’s current non-domestic ownership at about 44 per cent.

Airtel issued shares in early January worth up to $2 billion and opened the sale of $1 billion in bonds to non-domestic investors, as it embarked on a massive fundraising effort to cover controversial fees demanded by the government.

In October 2019, the Country’s Supreme Court ruled operators’ adjusted gross revenue (AGR) covers all revenue, including non-telecoms related activities.

The decision burdens Airtel with INR355 billion ($4.99 billion) in additional licence and spectrum usage fees.

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Sub-Saharan Africa has the Most Expensive Broadband Prices – Report

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The 2020 Global Broadband Pricing Report by Cable.co.uk reveals vast disparities between rich and poor nations.

The report analysed data from 3 095 fixed-line broadband packages in 206 countries between 28 November 2019 and 8 January 2020.

It says war-ravaged Syria offers the world’s cheapest broadband, with an average cost of $6.60 per month.

The East African nation of Eritrea is the most expensive place in the world to get fixed-line broadband, with an average package price of $2 666.24 per month.

Sub-Saharan Africa fared worst overall, with almost all of its countries in the most expensive half of the table.

Eswatini (formerly Swaziland) was the cheapest in the region, coming in 34th overall with an average package price of $21.73.

Equatorial Guinea ($259.38), Burundi ($283.73) and Mauritania ($694.63) join Eritrea as the most expensive countries in the region, and all sit among the 10 most expensive countries in the world.

Falling prices

SA ranks number 101 out of 206 countries with an average cost of $44.77 per month.

“The price of fixed-line broadband globally continues to fall, while speeds continue to rise,” says Dan Howdle, consumer telecoms analyst at Cable.co.uk.

“In our worldwide broadband speed comparison, released in July of last year, similar disparities were apparent to those seen here. The countries with slow, patchy broadband infrastructure that supplies only a fraction of the population tend to be the most expensive. Likewise, those with exceptional, often full-fibre infrastructure supplying the majority of the population tend to be the cheapest, if not in absolute terms, certainly on a cost-per-megabit basis.”

Three of the top five cheapest countries in the world are found in the former USSR (Commonwealth of Independent States, including the Russian Federation itself) with an average package cost of just $7.35 per month.

Conversely, the US has the most expensive broadband in the world, coming in 119th place with an average monthly package cost of $50.

Within Western Europe, France is the cheapest, with an average package price of $27.81 per month, followed by Germany ($28.74), Andorra ($32.65) and Italy ($33.28).

The UK came in sixth cheapest out of 29 Western European nations (and 71st cheapest worldwide), with an average package price of $15.90 per month.

However, due to lower average speeds compared to much of Europe, it fared far worse in terms of value for money, coming in 23rd of 29 countries in Western Europe, and 81st in the world, with a cost per 1Mbps of bandwidth, per month, of $1.07, the report says.

In the Near East region, Howdle points out war-ravaged Syria came in the cheapest with an average monthly price of $6.60 per month (and ranked first overall), with Saudi Arabia ($82.85), Qatar ($109.87), United Arab Emirates ($115.97), Bahrain ($145.89) and the Yemen ($2 466.67) providing the most expensive connectivity in the region.

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