By Adekunle Adekoya
LAST year in this column, I wrote of Hackers, National Security and Development. Then, I merely explored how useful hackers can be to their national economies, averring that since the wheel can no longer be re-invented, all that nations desiring pre-eminence in the commanding heights of the global economy need do is empower their hackers to “steal”industrial secrets of nations that are already “there”, copy, and launch.
Well, a lot has since happened globally in the cyber-attack realm, as hundreds of corporations in the industrialized West have fallen victim of the activities of hackers, with accusing fingers repeatedly pointing towards China. Sensitive military-industrial organizations like America’s NASA, and Israel’s Shin Bet have fallen victim, and given the financial outlay on security procedures in these organizations, then no one is really safe anymore from cyber attacks of any kind.
Even media organizations like New York Times, the Wall Street Journal and Washington Post had disclosed that their corporate computer networks had been penetrated by Chinese hackers, who were apparently trying to monitor US coverage of Chinese issues.
Earlier this month, US National Security Adviser, Mr Tom Donilon warned China to rein in its army of cyber warriors. In the past, it had been alleged that a tower block in Shanghai, China is the headquarters of hackers working for the Chinese military.
In all of these, there are serious omens ahead, especially for countries like ours still grappling with “pedestrian” issues like roads, water, reliable power supply, and other infrastructural problems. Really, it would be in our interest to be more futuristic as we grapple with these problems. It also would be in our collective interest to reach back into our culture and seek out modals of defending ourselves against the evil days that are surely bound to come in the future.
In the last five years and more global leaders have been talking of Africa as the “next”continent where great things will happen, economically speaking, and we applaud, thinking that we are the ones making the progress they speak of. Well, my take is that our continent is seen as the last frontier to be breached, and unless we rise up in knowledge, Africa and her peoples will suffer a fresh, new wave of colonialism, a kind that this planet is yet to see. Mark my words; the apartheid case in South Africa was a test run of how things might look in the future in the re-colonised Africa.
So, what do we do? It should be seen as a matter of urgency to begin to train our youths in ICT know-how, especially software design and engineering. Yes, they will be taught in English, but our safety net will be to design software solutions in indigenous languages for various sectors like traffic control systems, financial systems, oil and gas, education, military-industrial, and others.
The present situation whereby many of our languages are no longer taught in our schools is simply unacceptable, and anti-national security. Imagine if the software superintending our national air defences were written in any of our 387 languages, a hacker coming at us would have to learn all of the 387 orthographies, and he’d be as old as Methuselah by the time he finishes cracking the codes, and we’d have moved on! Our salvation is in our hands, in our culture.