Nigeria is about to come face to face with a lot of damages following the appearance of new generation terrorists who has everything it takes to destroy the country quicker than the Boko Haram insurgents. In line with this, Tope Aladenusi, the expert of Deloitte Nigeria, has prepared a research called “Cyberharam: Can Nigeria Prepare For The Next Generation Of Terrorists?”.
Aladenusi in his work brings to our consciousness that there is a new type of terror that is brewing and evolving at an alarming speed all over the world. This threat, he explained, is far more sophisticated and has the capacity to cause more damage than Boko Haram. The author pointed out that the new generation of terrorism may not be in close combat but will be in cyberspace.
Just to refresh our memories; recall that in 2013, a director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) said he expects cyber threats to exceed the terrorism threat that nations will face in the years to come. And true to that, in 2012, there were reports that attacks on the website of the Nigerian government had increased by 60%. A perfect instance is a report that the website of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) was hacked on the day of the 2015 presidential election.
These forms of attacks range from simple probes, website defacement, denial of service and espionage, to wide-scale terrorism.
The expert further explained that there is already visible evidence which proves the interest of terrorist organizations in leveraging cyber capabilities to further their cause. The Boko Haram sect, for example, gets media attention by leveraging social media.
“In 2013, the Syrian Electronic Army (SEA) hacked the Twitter account of a news agency and falsely claimed the White House had been bombed and President Barack Obama was injured. This led to a US$136.5 billion dip on the S&P 500 index that same day.
“If terrorists are choosing to dedicate so much resources into advancing their knowledge of cyber security, why then should our law-enforcement agents be caught unawares and keep playing catch up?”
Aladenusi noted that just the same Boko Haram took us by surprise 15 years ago, we may also be blindsided to the concept of cyber-terrorism on the Nigerian infrastructure. “The advent of cyber as a weapon of warfare is rapidly gaining momentum and Nigeria is not immune to such threats. It is only a matter of time before it becomes full blown”, a part of the work reads.
For example, the new generation terrorists have the possibility to hack into a plane’s control system through the in-flight Wi-Fi system, can use the internet as a recruitment tool for terrorists worldwide as has been alleged of ISIS and an evolving weapon in the global distribution of chaos.
“As of today, it is unbelievable that only one tertiary institution in Nigeria currently administers cyber security as a course of study. A large proportion of Nigerian Ph.D. holders in Computer Science related courses are not Cyber Security experts. The US Government is pitching $14Billion in cyber security spending for the fiscal year 2016 across all its agencies. This budget keeps increasing year after year.”
“In this war, the possibility for success is still a moving target as both heroes and villains are learning and seeking out new ways to defend and attack respectively. Today’s defense or better said; this second’s defense is the next second’s weakness.
“How can we play in such a field where the weapons and the yardstick of success change on a per second basis? How do we fight a war that will not be limited to a section of the country but has the potential to undermine even the high and mighty in every nook and cranny?”
Making recommendations on how to fight “Cyberharam”, Tope Aladenusi said:
1. To identify Nigeria’s critical infrastructure and assess the risks to these systems so as to identify threats and vulnerabilities.
– financial and telecommunication systems; – systems hosting classified national security information
2. To invest massively in cyber-capacity development with emphasis on law enforcement agencies, policy framework developers, the judiciary and both the state and federal legislative arms of government.
– the establishment of a joint task force for cyber security; – building of a National Cyber Command Center that will be the go-to center for cyber security in Nigeria and will facilitate Cyber intelligence integration for all governmental parastatals and other institutions in Nigeria – collaboration among stakeholders and cyber-intelligence sharing is key to having a united front against cyber terrorism.