December 27, 2017

Weaponization of the cyberspace: Imperatives for national digital defence

Uwaje, Nigeria, ICT

Mr. Chris Uwaje

By Tare Youdeowei

With focus on the forth industrial revolution, Chris Uwaje, the Director General DSIHUB Africa, Chair IEEE-IoT Summit, Past-President Institute of Software Practitioners of Nigeria (ISPON) and Country Convener IPv6 Council Nigeria, at the 4th Nigeria Mobile Economic Summit & EXPO 2017 with the theme: The Mobile Economy Impact in Nigeria, Policy Innovation and Investment Benefits and Content, explored the Nigerian ICT landscape and examined the digital security challenges in cyberspace.

He did not stop there, Uwaje went on to give reasons for the nation’s slow adoption of technology by corporate entities with special focus on the need and imperatives for  innovators, leaders, policy-makers and stakeholders. Then, Uwaje proffered recommendations and next steps as he spoke on Weaponization of the Cyberspace: Imperatives for National Digital Defence.

Mr. Chris Uwaje


Fourth Industrial Revolution

The knowledge Olympiad has begun. The success in this digital domain and platform-centric battlefield is speed-enabled intellectual property wealth creation in cyber Space. Therefore it is imperative for the new National Assets, DATA, to be protected especially with the emergence of Internet of Things (IoT) which requires strategic intervention at all critical levels of development.

Nigeria, as well as Africa stands at the dawn of technology opportunity and will benefit immensely, if government and corporate policy encourages the ICT industry and security stakeholders to lead the advocacy and promotion of IPv6 adoption as a gateway to sustainable development in the continent.

This will not only protect national corporate wealth but spur innovation, create employment for our youth, improve our global e-Readiness status, improve our national security concerns and accelerate global competitiveness. Today, the security landscape has changed forever. Our digital and cyberspace is amassing data and intelligent information at the speed of light!

This trend is prominently noticed in some of their largest Internet Service Providers (ISPs). Available reports and metric on IPv6 adoption in many countries outside Africa informs that there is a conscious steady migration from IPv4 to IPv6 growth based on strategic plan focusing on its enormous economic opportunities, benefits and potential risks.

The US, Germany, Belgium, Switzerland, and Greece are all above 20 percent, and a number of others such as Malaysia, Ecuador, Portugal and Peru close behind. As of today, 186 Nigerian organisations own networks with a unique Autonomous System Number (ASN). Out of that number, only 9 (including 5 ISPs and 4 enterprises) have enabled IPv6 on their network. This represents less than five percent of networks in Nigeria that support IPv6. This constitutes a national concern within the context of Critical National Information Infrastructure and Security.

Protecting local digital space

Today, the most potent weapon is data and information in cyberspace. Within 60 seconds or an internet minute, there are 900,000 Facebook logins, 3.5 million Google searches, 4.1 videos viewed on YouTube, 46,200 posts uploaded on Instagram, 452,000 tweets sent, 156 million emails sent, 1.8 snaps created on Snap Chat, 990,000 swipes on Tinder, 342,000 apps downloaded and at least $751,522 spent online.

This brings to mind a quote by I.T. Wars in 2006 ‘…a single individual is very capable of waging cyber war at a level we previously attributed only to intelligence agencies or crime syndicates.’ Truer words have never been spoken. What we are talking about here is asymmetrical threat: a single individual or small group vs. an entire country, for example.

It is reasonable to assume that once closing a divide between will and means, a complete dedication to  ‘business’ will be paired with extraordinarily damaging ‘technology.’ One group or another will ‘pull the trigger’ once closing this divide, wrecking catastrophic harm. If this happens, the absence of a robust cyber security corporate business plan to thwart the ambitions of business sustainability and survivability will be an issue.

IPv6: How late is late?

The question is why is Nigeria a late comer to global technology innovation and adoption? The 2016 e-Government Readiness Index puts Nigeria at 119 out of 139 in the world. This slow adoption of IPV6 is due to policy makers being late to emergence of new technologies, inconsistent policies by leadership, lack of Inclusiveness strategy, disconnect of between government, industry and academia, limited capacities and capabilities of service providers to timely engage the challenges and public awareness gap.

However, uninformed user community and stakeholders, limited ICT R&D funding mechanism, inadequate incentive & sustainable strategy, under assessment of local content capabilities and over-tasked regulation and responsibilities, cannot be overlooked. Fortunately, we can wade out of it all.

Next steps

  • Our national ICT vision and mission should be focused on software engineering and innovation development to ensure national ICT competitiveness and future survivability.
  • The nation is encouraged to engage the challenges of digital mind-change, digital regime-change revolution, by invigorating digital local content plans and strategies for national adoption.
  • To accelerate the diffusion of mobile economy, the implementation of the National Broadband Plan should intensified and ISPs should be encouraged to engage constructive IPv6 transition and migration.
  • The Senate Committee on Information and Communications Technology should, without further delay, promote the enactment National ICT Framework Bill to harmonize all ICT Acts into one foundation under the institutional framework of the Office of the ICT General of the Federation.
  • Establishment of National and State Digital Mobile Taskforce Workgroups as a Train the Trainer strategy, is imperative.
  • National ICT Innovation Development Fund should be created to fuel the acceleration of digital economy innovation hubs, and promote Start-up Hackathon at all levels.