One of the biggest challenges on the internet today is cyber crime. This is because, hackers are becoming more sophisticated by the day. In order to ensure that the internet is much safer, there is the need to train more experts in this emerging field of Cyber Security.
I recently had a chat with Remi Afon, the President of the Cyber Security Experts Association of Nigeria, CSEAN, and he shared his views on capacity building for the Cyber Security industry, especially, in Nigeria.
Remi said that, presently, we have a shortage of Cyber Security professionals in Nigeria as well as a global shortage in that field. He stated that the global shortage is, in fact, going to hit about 1.8 million in the next 5 years, from research conducted.
He went further to state that Nigeria is not doing anything to breach the gap, unlike in the UK, for instance, where some young talents are being trained. These trainees, he said, will form a sort of cyber army for the UK in future.
Expanding on what the UK is currently doing about getting more Cyber Security professionals, Remi said that the UK just created a Cyber Security Academy that will develop the talents of people between the ages of 16 and 19, to protect the UK's cyber space.
He stated that, according to a research by Security Intelligence in America, there are about 30 countries building security capabilities.
It is, therefore, not only the UK that is building its Cyber Security capabilities, but other countries like Russia, North Korea, etc., are also developing talents that will be able to defend their cyber space. He reiterated that some countries are even developing professionals for offensive capabilities in the cyber space and these are known as rouge nations.
On who is funding the Cyber Security Academy in the UK, Remi said that some NGO's are funding it with the backing of the British government.
On what is missing that makes Nigeria not to have enough Cyber Security professionals, Remi is of the view that Nigeria started on a faulty foundation. He stated that we do not have these courses offered in our universities and institutes, therefore, the need for awareness campaign.
Remi opined that, Nigeria can start training Cyber Security professionals that will even service part of the shortfall in Cyber Security professionals expected worldwide in the next 5 years. This, according to him, is because one can operate from anywhere in the world. "All you need to do is to have a security operative centre in Nigeria, being manned by Nigerians and you will be servicing a lot of multinational organisations", Remi said.
Responding to the question as to what Nigeria should be doing at this time to up our ante in the cyber security space because the cyber space is fast becoming unsafe on daily basis, Remi stated that there is need for collaborative efforts to fight cyber crime.
He opined that government needs to take the leadership role in this mobilisation for collaboration and the Private sector and NGO's too should come together, so they will have a common front to fight the menace.
In Remi's view, the private sector is not yet doing enough because, presently, there is no leadership. "If the government provides leadership, the private sector will fall in line without coercion.
Examples abound all over the world", Remi said. "All that the government needs to do is to provide us the platform and not money as everything is not about money. All it needs to provide is the leadership and every other sector will fall in place and support the efforts of government", he stressed.
Stating some of the risks we face in the future if nothing is done to check cyber crimes, Remi stated that we face risks, now and in the future. These include the country being hacked, national elections can be influenced by foreign countries, etc. As the 2019 elections is fast approaching, Remi said that Nigeria should be ready for hackers, hence, there is the need for the government, politicians, etc., to find means of protecting their data. " Everybody needs to be cyber security conscious ", Remi emphasised.
Stating the requirements for becoming a Cyber Security professional, Remi stated that the first step is to join the CSEAN, a platform where they can be trained in the field of Cyber Security, through the needed guidance and leadership.
They can also specialise in training to become ethical hackers, etc, according to him. He also stated that there are also other resources they can tap from online. They can then sit for and pass their exams to earn certification. Remi said that they are also taught the ethics of the profession too as everything is not all about hacking. He stated that having a degree to join up in the cyber security space is no longer relevant as there is no need to put a barrier because it has been found out that most hackers are not even educated, while some are teenagers still in secondary schools.
Remi commended the efforts of the CFA team in posting video clips of Online Security segment of the Tech Trends on Channels Television show on YouTube in order to educate people about the risks involved while online and how to circumvent them. He also assured that his Association also assists by re-posting and sharing the posts on social media, so that it can reach more online users.
In his final submission, Remi stated that people should take cyber security seriously. "We should not allow it to happen to us before we start looking for remedies", he advised. He stated that, in line with his Association's initiative called "Stop, Think On It", he is now advising people to key into it and be careful with what they share online. " When you see any information, email or attachment, think twice and be sure it is coming from a legitimate source and verify first before you click on it", he concluded.