The inter-ministerial Technical Committee on the implementation of the National Cyber Security Strategy has held its inaugural meeting at the headquarters of the National Information Technology Development Agency, (NITDA) with a call for stringent measures to curb cyber threats.

In his remark on the occasion, Dr. Isa Pantami, director general of National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), frowned at the report that out of the 2,175 Nigerian websites hacked in 2015, 585 were government-owned, and called for stringent measures to curb incessant cyber threats witnessed in the country.

He reiterates the advantages of technology and also the ills prevalent in the society arising from the misuse and abuse of access to the tools of information technology,

“These Information Technological tools that have become vital in our critical activities are also avenues adopted by individuals and groups to carry out a range of malicious activities,” Pantami stated, adding that these threats could be targeted at national critical infrastructures, government/private institutions or individuals.

“Today, information assets are very valuable and various sectors of the Nigerian government have come to rely on technological tools to carry out their processes both critical and non-critical. Financial services, Telecommunications, Navigation systems, Manufacturing Sector, Oil and Gas, Power and Energy, Food and Agriculture, Emergency Services, Public Healthcare, Water and Waste Management Systems amongst others now strongly rely on digital systems networks”, he said.

The DG further disclosed staggering statistics that have necessitated the setting up of the committee.

Mrs. Hadiza Umar, Head, NITDA Corporate Affairs & External Relations, confirmed in a statement the research figures which indicated that out of about 97 million internet users in Nigeria, 14 percent suffer cyber-attacks.

In 2013, global payment giant, paypal.com, disclosed that Nigerians lost about N159 billion to cybersecurity threats. Since 2014, the country has been losing about N90 billion to cybercrime and in December 2015, Nigeria was the 17th most attacked nation in the world based on threat intelligence drawn from Check Point Software Technologies.

Office of the National Security adviser (ONSA) recently disclosed that of the 2,175 Nigerian websites hacked in 2015, 585 were government owned.

The scale and dimension of these threats, according to Dr Pantami, has compelled the agency to develop and implement a new cybersecurity strategy for the Federal Civil and Public Service Sector.

He also called for a continuous collaborative effort as information security is not a one-off programme, as the threat landscape keeps changing.

The committee consists of representatives from Federal Ministry of Communications; Office of the National Security Adviser; National Information Technology Development Agency; Nigeria Postal Service; Nigeria Computer Society; NigComSat; and CS2.

The Technical Committee is aimed at countering an increasing number of threats and develop a strategy in the following areas: Greater inter-agency coordination, cooperation, and information sharing; Maintaining a better and up-to-date IT security management systems; Raising awareness among the population of the need to protect against cyber threat the use of encryption; Human and institutional capacity building.

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