Explosion in digital economy calls for vigilance, cyber security – Danbatta

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The Executive Vice Chairman of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Professor Umar Danbatta has said that the ongoing vast explosion in digital economy across the world will require vigilance and effective cyber security.

The NCC Chair made this known in a keynote speech he delivered at the 87th Telecom Consumer Parliament (TCP) held in Lagos recently.

He said: “In today’s digital economy, the Internet, and by extension broadband, is enabling people to carry out their personal and official activities in a more efficient and effective manner.The fact that Internet empowers people and businesses to execute just any task much faster and more efficiently, thereby guaranteeing better efficiency and improved productivity, informs the rapid increase we are witnessing in the number of Internet users globally’.

‘The explosion in the Internet uptake was attested to by a recent report from the International Telecommunication Union (ITU). The report, Measuring the Information Society Report 2018, showed that by the end of 201 8, an estimated 51.2 per cent of the global population, or 3.9 billion people, were using the Internet.’

‘According to the report, developing countries are recording more impressive growth in this direction as Internet users increased from 7.7 per cent in 2005 to 45.3 per cent at the end of 2018. This compares with the slow and steady growth in developed countries where Internet users grew from 51.3 per cent in 2005 to 80.9 per cent in 2018.’

The NCC boss said of all ITU regions, the strongest growth was reported in Africa, where the percentage of people using the Internet rose from 2.1 per cent in 2005 to 24.4 per cent in 2018. Europe and Americas were reported to be recording lowest growth rates.

“Regarding broadband subscriptions, the ITU report further reckons that globally, the number of active mobile-broadband subscriptions has increased dramatically from 268 million in 2007 to 5.3 billion in 2018.  Developing countries, to which Nigeria belongs, registered much faster growth in mobile broadband subscriptions compared to developed countries, as the ITU report showed that in developing countries, penetration rates have reached 61 per 100 inhabitants in 2018, with much more scope for further growth in coming years.’

‘Let me state at this juncture that in Nigeria, similar positive trend in broadband demand and growth is happening in the telecommunications industry, as the country outstandingly achieved and surpassed the 30 per cent broadband penetration target. The foregoing statistics has been considered necessary to prepare the foundation for our discussion…while the Commission stipulates the rules of engagement that will make the cyberspace safe and ensure the confidence as well as the safety of the cyberspace, it needs to be acknowledged that there are benefits and risks of the use of cyberspace and both have to be properly managed’, he added.

He noted that in a bid to ensure that telecommunication consumers in the country receive efficient services and massive protection, the Nigerian Communications Commission has set up a Computer Security Incidence Response Teams (CSIRT) exclusively for the telecommunications sector.

He said that CSIRT (pronounced as “see-sirt), is a microcosm of NgCERT which is the National CERT for Nigeria domiciled in the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA) with core value of promoting the philosophy of cyber security research initiatives in Nigeria.

With over 169 million active lines in 2018 and over 246 million connected GSM users in the year under review compared to 400,000 active telephone lines in 2001, Danbatta believes cyber security has become an essential component of human activity with its high level of complexity which requires action at different levels.

Speaking on ‘ Challenges of Cybercrime: The Role of Telecom Service Providers being the theme of the TCP, Danbatta emphasised the necessity for the deployment of CSIRT in the telecom sector.

He said: ‘Let me again explain by saying that CSIRT in this case implies National Cyber Security Incidents Response Team. It is not a team of human beings rather networked computers, designed to checkmate incidences of cyber security on the telecommunications networks’.

The NCC boss assured that CSIRT lab will assist to contain cyber crimes in the telecom sector. His words: ‘The equipment has been supplied. What is remaining is just the configuration. The intention is to ensure that the telecommunications networks are secured because, in addition to the benefits of digital revolution which is referred to the fourth industrial revolution, there is a risk dimension that results in the erosion of privacy and security.’

“Therefore, NCC must be on the forefront on ensuring that our telecommunication networks are secured enough to ensure that Nigerians who want to subscribe to telecom services will do so without any fear of their security/privacy violated”.

He said that the need for the cyber security architecture is highlighted by the fact that as the complexity of the network increases – voice, data and broadband services and by extension internet services, then, the burden on the network increases and demands more combat-ready security solutions.

 

Posted By Oyedeyi Samson

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