William Makatiani, managing director, Serianu, recently visited Nigeria and spoke to chike Onwuegbuchi on cyber security issues
Africa is playing catch-up in cyber security
We are not prepared in Africa. The problem we have in Africa is that, we like to do easy things fast. Easy thing means deploy technology, some vendors will come and tell you this thing works in the US, put it in place and we put it in-place. The problem with that is you never get to look at security.
Security is complicated because there is local aspect around securing systems, most of our fraudsters live here, most of the banks that lose money are in Nigeria, in Ghana, in Kenya among others and those that perpetrate these frauds are within those environments. There is no way somebody will come from the US and secure it, that is the hard work. We need somebody to understand how these people are doing it.
Only locals can do it, those are the difficult things, implementation of the system is easier and those are the things we are focusing on.
When it comes to preparation we are not ready because we don’t have enough skills. Secondly, we are not ready because we are not collaborating. If you are Bank A and I’m Bank B, if you get compromised you keep quiet if it is insured you go get compensated and you will not tell Bank B and Bank B will get hit, it really empowering the hackers now they know they can get away with all these attacks.
Third issue is Malware- malicious software. We are not training our people well enough. You get an employee, an assistant to the chief executive officer, the CEO tells his assist if you get an email click on it, print it for me let me see what it is. Now, they are clicking on malicious links. Immediately they click they get Ransonware and get compromised and Ransonware takes over the network as you are looking at that our curriculum in the universities are old.
There is no single individual that can come from our traditional university that will be able to get into cyber security field without additional preparation.
We have those gaps. When you think of where we are headed and we need to ask ourselves how do we address it?
Our board members does not understand technology, if you tell them about the safe, that somebody is getting into the safe they will understand, but the safe is no longer save. The database is the new safe, if a board member cannot understand that Oracle database is the new safe there is pretty much they can be able to secure, so if I tell them I want to secure Oracle database, they will say last year we bought a router this year we have bought a firewall why are we buying something new? They will say no, but the padlock we bought for the safe last year was good but has gone out of the market we need a new padlock, that padlock will cover our database which is Oracle. This is the language we need to get to our board members.
The language technical people are taking to board members and senior managers is out dated, you cannot talk technology to somebody who spend his time playing golf or somebody who spends his time looking at financial statements you need to come up with something that is comparative.
From a typical corporate perspective the question is how do we change? If you come to global cyber security problem you have three steps.
First is, understanding what is happening; second is attributing it to an individual and third is how do we stop that individual?
In understanding in Africa, we are trying our best but we are 20 per cent, this has to do with deploying of technology to understand what is going on in the network. When it comes to attribution we are poor just 2 per cent , there is no single attack that has be successful being attributed very few, because these individuals came out and say it happened like this or this is what led to this or that.
If it comes to attribution of attacks happening in different countries in Africa it is not easy to attribute it to somebody, attribution is a challenge.
Deterrent requires law enforcement and it is where we are really struggling. Law enforcement agents are not working together you find judiciary, national intelligence or Army, they don’t know how to coordinate this issue of cyber security so that they can be able to attribute most of the bigger attacks to somebody. That is the biggest cyber security problem and that is where we are facing challenge.
Issues of lack of collaboration
The reason why there isn’t much collaboration is because of fear. For instance, with the private sector such as banks there is this fear that customers will run away, we don’t want people to know they have stolen from me, it is an African problem. Africans we don’t want sharing our things in public.
We have to move beyond where we are and only regulation will force people to talk to each other. If you get compromised, it is okay. It is normal let us know so that we allow other people to learn from that experience. That is the key.
Most of these law enforcement officials don’t coordinate because some of them don’t know. We also need to be very clear in terms of who is responsible for what, if you are an investigation agency, we need to know where you start and where you stop. If you are in national intelligence services, you need to help us develop intelligence on why banks are getting attacked, who is attacking and who is benefit from these money that is where you start and ones you get it you empower the police who are going out to investigate some of these crimes so that they can be able to be addressed.
If you are in the army you need to have intelligence to know if it is a state problem, if the hackers are coming from Ghana, Ukrane, Ruwanda or Kenya, you need to look at that and say how do we coordinate this? And then empower the prosecution and the judges so that they can make a clear case of what is going on when and how. That is the type of collaboration we need.
Impact of different regulatory agencies in the fight against cyber crime
If you have a cyber-security office which in Nigeria is lacking, this will have an incumbent who is responsible for cyber security policy in the country like we are seeing in the UK, South Africa among others, where you have office of the cyber security incumbent who could coordinate all these issues.
It can become a problem if it is political, he can’t do much. That is why it is allowed to run just like Attorney general.
The biggest problem with cyber security office depends on where it sits. For countries where it is located in the judiciary it works very well, because the whole idea is to be able to oppressionalize the security laws and if it is located under the attorney general it works very well. If you move it into ICT ministry it fails, if you move it into NIS or national security Agency it fails.
Cyber security law
Cyber security changes very fast, four years ago we didn’t know about Ransomeware, we didn’t know about cryptomining, cryptomining is a biggest thing now. What we see across the world is instead of us to focus on technology, we focus on particulars of crimes which means at the end of the day it is fraud, unauthorised access, there is sabotage and those were the results of somebody coming in and compromising in an environment.
Most of our laws are copy and paste especially from Malaysia, Singerpole. We copy our laws from those countries across Africa and if you look at the laws we have in place, they focus a lot on tools and techniques and that is what is out-dated.
The tools, techniques and processes of attacking have changed. We have to change from focusing so much on tools, techniques and processes and focus on fraud say somebody did A,B,C,D whichever way they did it, it is still a fraud.
Criminals 100 years ago were interested in stealing money, information about you, interested in making sure you don’t move, it is the same thing today. Criminal are interested in stealing money from banks, making sure you don’t provide service, interested in stealing Intellectual Property (IP) or private data. In terms of motive they have not changed, intentions have not changed and therefore we have to build flexible laws that address motives, intensions and the principles of what the laws are trying to achieve to deter.
Building Cyber security Skills in Organisations to Fight Cyber-attacks
If I were an ambitious leader, I will cancel quite a number of technology programmes in our curriculum, they are wasting time. Get in touch with the industry, get some professional from other countries, look at the areas of artificial intelligent, analytics, look at the areas of cyber security build practical programmes.
Start with forcing graduates to do one to two year programme where they learn practical, set up research foundations behind these new technologies, because if you don’t do it now, even smaller countries like Rwanda, Botswana Mauritius will be more powerful than bigger countries like even South Africa, Nigeria. In some of these areas, the problem is to start early.
Number one thing is to change the curriculum, the curriculum we have now is useless. Yes, it builds the people to the level where you can convert them, but it doesn’t build the curiosity to continue building your capability into analytics crypto. If you look at the curriculums of those in the United States, UK and Europe even Rwanda and Mauritius you now see the embedding of these new technologies and new media. First of all you have to start with that.
Number two, it is unfortunate the tools most of the professional we have in the market place are bringing are out-dated. The days of sitting somewhere looking at risk on huge template are gone, if you are going to lose money you lose money through the payment system, through a card or fund and risks starts there. And you fall back who is likely to do it? That has changed, now employees need to change, they don’t need to sit down in class, but they need to look at what they are doing, what is changing in the industry and then retrain in terms of approach.
FG Launches Central Database for Stolen Asset Tracing
Federal government has launched a Central Database under the Asset Tracing, Recovery and Management Regulations (ARTM), 2019 and the Central Criminal Justice Information System (CCJIS) under the National Anti-Corruption Strategy (NACS) 2017 – 2011 to assist in the fight against corruption.
Mr Abubakar Malami, attorney-general of the federation (AGF) and minister of Justice, at the launch in Abuja, said the database will ensure uniformity of process, access and information feeding to deepen transparency and accountability in the management of recovered assets.
To ensure compliance, he said his office is developing legislation for the full implementation and operation of the CCJIS.
“We will work together to establish and re-enact transparency and accountability in governance and management of our resources which we have committed to do by way of strengthening International Cooperation of our membership of Open Government Partnership,” he said.
In his speech, Mr Femi Gbajabiamila, speaker of the House of Representatives, represented by Mrs Ugonna Ozurigbo, chairman, House Committee on Justice, said the regulation on Asset Tracing, Recovery and proper management of proceeds of crime was signed on October 24, 2019, and took effect from November 1, 2019, replaced the proceeds of Crime Regulation of 2012.
The new regulation titled Asset Tracing, Recovery and Management Regulations 2019 empowers the AGF to take charge of the custody and management of all final forfeited assets, approval and appointment of asset managers and operating and maintaining a database for the records of all recovered assets within and outside Nigeria.
He said, the AGF’s office, under the new regulation, is also required to coordinate inter-agency investigations into recovery matters within and outside Nigeria from all law enforcement agencies whose law empowers them to undertake recoveries and maintaining a depository for all forfeiture orders issued by the Nigeria courts and courts outside Nigeria.
Asset Tracing, Recovery and Management, according to the Speaker, is a core value of good governance and its effective management will serve as a deterrent to would-be fraudulent minded individuals who may find themselves in public offices.
According to him, states resources must not be allowed to be stolen but if that happened by fraudulent individuals, efforts must be taken to trace the proceed, recover same and manage for the interest of the generality of the people.
“When the proceeds of crime are traced and recovered but again looted by government officials, I dare to say such act amounts to the crime of tertiary capacity and must be avoided.
“Assets not accounted for are assets lost; loss of assets undervalues the economic potential of a country and will negatively impact on the net worth of a country. Accordingly, Asset Tracing Recovery and Management is a panacea to rekindling of the value system of a nation,” the Speaker noted.
Konga Bulk Debuts Monday
Konga, Nigeria’s foremost ethical and innovative composite e-Commerce brand is set to unveil a revolutionary new solution – Konga Bulk – which the company says will represent the new normal for forward-thinking businesses and consumers in the Nigerian corporate space.
Equally important, Konga Bulk, the latest innovation from the e-Commerce giant, is set to go live on Monday, September 21, 2020.
Through this initiative, Konga is rolling out a mega platform which has been touted a potential game-changer, offering manufacturers, distributors, resellers as well as Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) an opportunity to take advantage of Konga’s world class assets including its secure regional warehouses, smart offices, cutting-edge technology, advanced logistics capabilities through an internally-owned subsidiary, Kxpress and its Central Bank of Nigeria-licensed payment platform known as KongaPay.
This is in addition to leveraging Konga’s e-Commerce engine and extensive marketing expertise in bringing their products and services to the consciousness of millions of Nigerians nationwide.
In other words, Konga is taking a huge burden off the shoulders of manufacturers and other business owners in Nigeria through this ambitious project.
By allocating physical office and warehouse spaces to partner businesses and placing its many other cutting-edge assets at their disposal, Konga is ushering many into the new normal by bringing succour to corporate entities, many of whom have been encumbered by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Furthermore, Konga Bulk will play a very important role, bridging the gap to genuine products and services between manufacturers, distributors, resellers, bulk buyers and consumers.
Resellers and other bulk buyers can also take advantage of best prices available for genuine products exclusively through Konga Bulk.
Kalu Johnson, vice president, Strategic Business, said businesses who sign up on Konga Bulk have a lot to gain.
‘‘Konga Bulk is a very ambitious project which we have positioned as the new normal.
“It is a unique opportunity for manufacturers to take advantage of the huge assets and real estate, both physical and virtual, available at Konga.
‘‘We have invested significantly and strategically in various areas of our operations.
“Today, Konga owns arguably the largest single warehouse space in Lagos in addition to other similar massive infrastructure in other parts of the country such as Onitsha, Port Harcourt, Uyo, Abuja, Owerri and other locations.
‘‘As a manufacturer, distributor or business owner signed up on Konga Bulk, you no longer have to worry about owning your own office or warehouse space. Nor do you have to bother about the heavy investment in logistics, delivery, payment solution, technology, marketing or activations.
“You can rely on Konga’s world class competencies and assets in these areas.
‘‘Businesses must find a way to rebound from the difficulties occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Konga Bulk, which is focused on ushering in the new normal, is one of the innovations we have come up with to provide a way out,’’ he concluded.
Konga Bulk goes live online at www.konga.com and offline in every Konga retail store nationwide on Monday, September 21, 2020.
Access Bank Reaffirms Support for An Innovative, Smart Lagos State
Mr. Herbert Wigwe, managing director and chief executive officer of Access Bank Plc, has said that Access Bank Plc will not relent in supporting innovative programmes aimed at transforming Lagos into a 21st century State driven by technology innovations.
Wigwe spoke yesterday during the finals of the Lagos State Smart Meter Hackathon design held at the Bank’s Corporate Headquarters in Lagos.
An initiative of the Lagos State Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources, the Hackathon is aimed at providing affordable electricity meters to the populace by facilitating the design and production of meters that will accelerate efforts towards achieving improvement in energy distribution, monitoring and prevention of revenue leakage.
Wigwe who was represented by Mr Ade Bajomo, executive director, IT & Operations at Access Bank, said that supporting the Hackathon once more reinforces the Bank’s commitment to leveraging technology for the betterment of the society.
“Having Hackathon and innovative programmes like this, has always been part and parcel of our DNA in Access Bank. We are forever looking for new things to do to solve real problems in Africa and beyond; new things that would move the life of our people forward.
“We are always looking forward to doing things that would make more people financially independent, driving and enhancing the well-being of the entire society,” he said.
He noted that now the world is witnessing the Fourth Industrial Revolution, and there are Africans working with the rest of the world and using technology to solve the problems of the people.
Wigwe stressed that Access Bank does not exclude the rest of the world when it comes to using technology innovations to address the problems of the people.
“That is why this Hackathon is very important because it’s our people solving our problems and leveraging global solutions to finding our answers to our own problems.
“And that is why at the Africa Fintech Foundry (AFF), which Access Bank is promoting, we want to have more innovators and innovations that will help in transforming our society for the better,” he said.
The Access Bank boss stated that to see this Hackathon come to light shows the commitment of the Lagos State Government to not only the project, but to the actualization of a smart Lagos, where electricity is accessible and affordable.
He pledged Access Bank’s continued support to the Lagos State Government’s efforts at building a smart state.
Mr. Olalere Odusote, convener of the Lagos Smart Meter Hackathon and the State’s Commissioner for Energy and Mineral Resources, said that there were very many talented people who applied for the Hackathon, noting that there were 65 submissions in all, out of which its panel of experts reduced the number to the five finalists that participated at the finals of the Hackathon.
“We had the hardware yesterday and we were very impressed with what we saw. We are expecting no less from the software side. We are going to get engaged, look at what they have to offer and then integrate it into our future.
“We are trying to solve our own problems by ourselves. This is just the start; it is not a one-off project. At the end of the event, we will take the product to our prototype mode; we will take the product to a commercial development process,” he said.
The Commissioner said they were not just doing the Hackathon for the sake of it but are looking for solutions that will contribute to making Lagos a 21st Century economy.
He thanked Access Bank for its generosity, support and partnership with the State government. He also thanked other partners for joining in the journey of making Lagos a great state.
Five contenders each emerged from both categories of the competition, and the two winners are expected to share the prize money of seven million naira.
Finalists were shortlisted after a transparent, rigorous and competitive process.
The Hackathon attracted 274 registrations or entries, 127 of which bid in hardware category, while 147 competed in software group.
The five software finalists for the Hackathon on Thursday were Magnitronics, Vectorians, Zeena Platform, Chosen Soft Tech and Gideon.
It would be recall that during the launch of the programme on July 30th, 2020, the Lagos State Governor, Babajide Olusola Sanwo-Olu noted that the Smart Metre Hackathon Initiative marked a significant milestone in the implementation of the State Government’s plan towards improving access to electricity.
He said it aligned with the Sustainable Development Goal 7 of the United Nations, targeted at achieving universal access to affordable, reliable, sustainable, and modern energy for all by 2030.
The Lagos Smart Meter Hackathon 2020 was convened by the Lagos State Ministry of Energy & Mineral Resources, curated by Eko Innovation Centre, and sponsored by Access Bank Plc, Egbin Power, and Ikeja Electric Distribution Company.
Other sponsors include Mojec International, Eko Electric Distribution Company, MOMAS Electricity Meters Manufacturing Company, ElSewedy Electric, Royal Power & Energy, Venture Garden Group, InfraCredit, and Axxela Limited.
They were supported by the Lagos State Office of Innovation and Technology, Lagos State Employment Trust Fund (LSETF), the Nigerian Electricity Management Services Agency (NEMSA), Africa Fintech Foundry (AFF), Oracle, IBM, General Electric, Business Day and Accelerate TV.
The Grand Finale of the Hackathon holds on Friday, September 18, 2020 at Eko Innovation Centre, Ikoyi, Lagos.
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