Federal government has pledged its commitment to improve its capacity to protect the personal information, data and privacy of citizens, in line with global data regulations.
This has become necessary given the advancement of technology and digitization, which has given rise to cases of data breaches and privacy infringements of individuals and organizations.
Dr Vincent Olatunji, national commissioner/CEO, National Data Protection Commission (NDPC) made this known on Tuesday in Abuja, at a Digital Rights Innovation Lab meeting organised by Accountability Lab Nigeria in collaboration with, Spaces for Change, National Data Protection Commission, Paradigm Initiative Nigeria, and National Endowment for Democracy.
Represented by Chiderah Claire Ikeokonkwo, head of the Innovation Unit, Nigeria Data Protection Commission, NDPC, he noted that besides educating the public on the need to protect the value of information and content shared on online platforms of the government was also committed to deepening awareness, strengthening data protection mechanisms in order to instil trust and confidence.
He said: “Everything we do these days is connected to technology and as a result of that, we need to be able to have some control over the use, the access, what exactly is being done with this information that we exchange online.
“So, at the Nigeria data protection commission we regulate the processing of personal data, which means that we superintend over issues of data protection and privacy in all sectors of the economy and so in terms of work, the kind of work that we do with civil society organizations like accountability lab, it centres around stakeholder engagements.
“We also organize trainings you know, any form of capacity building just to make sure that we are doing something to positively increase the awareness on data protection and privacy in Nigeria and to also make sure that we’re building the number of experts on the issue of data protection and privacy.
“If people are aware of what happens when they are exchanging information online, then they will be better informed about how they can protect themselves online. Because most of these platforms are free of charge. It’s free to use and then we process your information, usually based on consent.
“You sign up to this app and you exchange the information. So, it then becomes necessary for citizens, data subjects, users, whatever you would call them, to be informed about data protection laws about their digital rights so that the more that they know about these rights the better they will be in a position to actually make sure that these rights are not being abused.
“So, it’s not a question of how safe are you. I think it’s more of how much you know and how much are you willing to do to protect the value of the information that you’re sharing online
Odeh Friday Odeh, country director, Accountability Lab, said there was a need for citizens to begin to manage information and have the confidence their digital rights and data were adequately protected
Odeh who urged the federal government to uphold the total rights and privacy of Nigerians, stressed the need for a balance in order to forestall incidences of hate speech, misinformation and disinformation among users in the digital space.
He said: “Just thinking what has happened over internet governance, interment shutdown in Africa and in the world, how can we as citizens have our rights protected, how can we ensure that the Government also stands for us?
“We want national unity but we need to build the foundation on truth. Look at what tools young people are using in terms of digital tools and how they can thrive in our society.
Information is key but nevertheless, we also have thought about the challenges that have to do with content, which go on a digital platform which causes disunity in some contexts, causes hate speech in some contexts as defined, but nevertheless, we need to create a balance.
“So we are bringing this platform together with government officials, civil society organizations working on digital rights and data protection, to see how we can form collaborative or collective actions to understand how we can provide solution.”
Mnenga Shiiwua, programme officer Accountability Lab, added, “We’re looking for an innovative opportunity where we’ll be able to sensitize people and create a collaborative approach towards pushing the understanding of the Nigerian data protection Act to the citizens to engage the relevant stakeholders, those from the civil society organizations and the governments at site, to see how together we can ensure the awareness about the Act is deepened and to see how together we can protect the rights of the citizens.”
Sophos Anticipates AI-Based Attack Techniques, Prepares Detections
Sophos, a global leader in innovating and delivering cybersecurity as a service, has released two reports about the use of AI in cybercrime.
The first report—“The Dark Side of AI: Large-Scale Scam Campaigns Made Possible by Generative AI”—demonstrates how, in the future, scammers could leverage technology like ChatGPT to conduct fraud on a massive scale with minimal technical skills.
However, a second report, titled “Cybercriminals Can’t Agree on GPTs,” found that, despite AI’s potential, rather than embracing large language models (LLMs) like ChatGPT, some cybercriminals are skeptical and even concerned about using AI for their attacks.
On the the dark side of AI, using a simple e-commerce template and LLM tools like GPT-4, Sophos X-Ops was able to build a fully functioning website with AI-generated images, audio, and product descriptions, as well as a fake Facebook login and fake checkout page to steal users’ login credentials and credit card details.
The website required minimal technical knowledge to create and operate, and, using the same tool, Sophos X-Ops was able to create hundreds of similar websites in minutes with one button.
“It’s natural—and expected—for criminals to turn to new technology for automation. The original creation of spam emails was a critical step in scamming technology because it changed the scale of the playing field. New AIs are poised to do the same; if an AI technology exists that can create complete, automated threats, people will eventually use it. We have already seen the integration of generative AI elements in classic scams, such as AI-generated text or photographs to lure victims.
“However, part of the reason we conducted this research was to get ahead of the criminals. By creating a system for large-scale fraudulent website generation that is more advanced than the tools criminals are currently using, we have a unique opportunity to analyze and prepare for the threat before it proliferates,” said Ben Gelman, senior data scientist, Sophos.
For its research into attacker attitudes towards AI, Sophos X-Ops examined four prominent dark web forums for LLM-related discussions. While cybercriminals’ AI use appears to be in its early stages, threat actors on the dark web are discussing its potential when it comes to social engineering. Sophos X-Ops has already witnessed the use of AI in romance-based, crypto scams.
In addition, Sophos X-Ops found that the majority of posts were related to compromised ChatGPT accounts for sale and “jailbreaks”—ways to circumvent the protections built into LLMs, so cybercriminals can abuse them for malicious purposes. Sophos X-Ops also found ten ChatGPT-derivatives that the creators claimed could be used to launch cyber-attacks and develop malware. However, threat actors had mixed reactions to these derivatives and other malicious applications of LLMs, with many criminals expressing concern that the creators of the ChatGPT imitators were trying to scam them.
“While there’s been significant concern about the abuse of AI and LLMs by cybercriminals since the release of ChatGPT, our research has found that, so far, threat actors are more skeptical than enthused. Across two of the four forums on the dark web we examined, we only found 100 posts on AI. Compare that to cryptocurrency where we found 1,000 posts for the same period.
“We did see some cybercriminals attempting to create malware or attack tools using LLMs, but the results were rudimentary and often met with skepticism from other users. In one case, a threat actor, eager to showcase the potential of ChatGPT inadvertently revealed significant information about his real identity. We even found numerous ‘thought pieces’ about the potential negative effects of AI on society and the ethical implications of its use. In other words, at least for now, it seems that cybercriminals are having the same debates about LLMs as the rest of us,” said Christopher Budd, director, X-Ops research, Sophos.
47% of Companies in the META Region Plan to Outsource Cybersecurity
Company bosses are boosting their cybersecurity following an alarming increase in cyberattacks, a new study commissioned by Kaspersky has found.
The data shows that 78% of companies in the Middle East, Turkiye and Africa region suffered at least one cyber incident over the last two years. One of the main reasons cited was the shortage of qualified IT security staff (23%).
Among measures to strengthen cybersecurity, overall up to 47% of respondents claimed that their companies plan to invest in different forms of outsourcing cybersecurity in the next 12 to 18 months.
Kaspersky conducted a study to learn the opinions of IT security professionals working for SMEs and corporations worldwide regarding the impact people have on cybersecurity in a company.
The survey gathered information about various groups of people who influence cybersecurity, looking at both internal staff, and external actors. It also analysed levels and types of online safety company bosses believed warranted investment.
In the META region, more than three quarters (78%) of respondents reported that their company had experienced cybersecurity incidents within the last two years, with 83% of these judged as ‘serious’. Some said the main reasons for cyber incidents occurring in their company were a lack of necessary tools for threat detection (31%) and a shortage of internal IT security staff (23%).
The respondents indicated that a variety of measures would be appropriate to address the gaps in cybersecurity. Specifically, 24% said they would like to see more external specialists brought in.
One quarter of organisations (25%) plan to invest in third-party professional services, and as many as 32% of respondents are aiming to outsource their cybersecurity to MSP/MSSP (Managed Service Providers/Managed Security Service Provider).
The most likely industries to invest in third-party services in the near future are critical infrastructure, energy and oil & gas companies.
At the same time, many organisations plan to invest in automating their cybersecurity processes. In the next 12 months almost half of businesses in the META region (51%) have concrete plans to implement software that automatically manages their cybersecurity, while 19% are discussing the subject.
“The automation and outsourcing of cybersecurity tasks are major areas that organisations are struggling with because of a lack of experts and alert fatigue. Turning to external experts, — whether it’s outsourcing, to manage the whole cybersecurity system, or adopting expert-level services to assist the IT Security department — is the optimal solution for many.
“Cybersecurity vendors, Managed Service Providers, Managed Security Service Providers are the companies that have relevant expertise, all the necessary tools, and can manage cybersecurity effectively for customers of any size.
“Additionally, they can provide the customer with various options, such as Managed Detection and Response services, where SOC experts continuously carry out monitoring, or assistance in case of emergency like investigating a particular incident. Automation tools provided by cybersecurity vendors is another way an organisation can strengthen its cybersecurity.
“For example, our XDR and MDR has out-of-the-box automation through investigation and response playbooks and embedded AI, enabling clients and partners to significantly automate their information security processes.
“With all possible options provided by experts, each company can determine the scope of services that are needed, based on cybersecurity gaps or desired development trajectory,” comments Ivan Vassunov, VP, Corporate Products at Kaspersky.
Yiaga Asks INEC t Consider ID Cards, Passports for Voter Identification
Yiaga Africa, a non-profit civic hub of change makers has again asked Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to consider legislative changes that would make it possible to accept the national digital ID as well as biometric passports as credentials for ID verification.
At a recent workshop, the organization has also encouraged INEC to make online voter registration a permanent feature and to improve on the functionality of the portal to allow for the remote collection of biometrics.
In the last voter registration cycle, online enrolment was highly encouraged but the capture of biometrics was done only at INEC’s physical offices.
Instead of printing PVCs, Yiaga Africa has advised that INEC should make it downloadable from its portal upon registration, or issue it as a printed document at polling stations at the time of voting.
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