By Nwafor Sunday
The issue of cyber security has made headlines across the world. In Nigeria, it has become an almost daily issue. From woeful tales of individuals losing their life’s savings because they misplaced their phones to corporations suffering heavy losses to cyber criminals who pose as well-established firms. In the end, two words remain on the lips of many — artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (mL)
Long before now, those terms were used solely by professionals in the tech community, but with the proliferation and commercialisation of technology in its various form that improves and simplify user interfaces that require that the end-users familiarise themselves with tech terms to navigate systems easily, mL and AI quickly turned into an everyday word used by the layperson.
While more tech words have become ‘less-techy’, a scourge of cyber security attacks and fraud is rife. Apparently, no one is safe from such attacks, not even a CTI expert like Chima Opara who holds a master’s degree in cybersecurity technology.
Although the Nigerian-American whose Twitter handle is @blacb has fallen prey once to cyber criminals but shy away from recounting the ordeal, he maintains that cyber security issues are driven by the intention of the individual who harnesses its functionality, and not necessarily a bad tool.
“Artificial Intelligence amplifies good ideas and good practice in the same way it amplifies bad ideas and bad practice,” he elucidated. To address these issues, you must articulate the problems that this will be solving, understand the datasets, and make sure that everything is transparent.”
Similarly, the CTI analyst also maintains that even when humans are not directly involved as in the case of cyber security, there have been concerns expressed by minority communities around the world over AI bias in silencing their voices or placing them at a disadvantage in terms of securing opportunities.
“There will always be erroneous assumptions when it comes to AI and Deep Learning. Remember, algorithms are engineered by people, and you know there will always be biases when it comes to something done by humans.
“Everyone is biased about something and this we cannot change but with effective decision making, we can monitor events to prevent AI bias, and limit the information you put online, but AI collects data, so reviewing and understanding all training data, structure the information it gathers that allows for different opinions, and as a business or company, to consider the end-users.”
Driven by curiosity and a passion for providing solutions, the Imo state native has from an early age always turned to study processes and systems.
“I grew up disabling my father’s radio for no reason and putting it back together,” Chima said. “I fixed other kids’ toys and I remember using a diode and cassette DC motor to build what is considered a drone now and powered it with six dry cell batteries
“Ever since then I have enjoyed doing technical things. So during college, I created mobile games on iOS and Android, and my games made around $19,000 in ad revenue. After graduating college, I enrolled in multiple Linux classes, Cyber boot camps, Ethical hacking courses like Kali Linux, Penetration Testing, Social Engineering etc.”
He believes if systems are properly studied and understood, the problem of cyber security will be curbed a great deal.
In a similar vein, he hints that with the various AI/mL research and development organisations like the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) (fablab is an innovation of NITDA), Nigeria is on the right track to tackling cyber security issues.
“Nigeria has a lot of trained people in cyber. The Nigerian government should take steps to spread awareness about cybercrimes, advisories, cyber forensics facilities, conduct seminars and a hacking event that educate people on the importance of cybersecurity,” he concluded.