L-R: Hon. Akeem Adeniyi Adeyemi, Chairman House Committee on Telecommunications; Prof. I.G Danbatta, Executive Vice-Chairman/CEO of NCC; Prof. Isa Ali Pantami, Honourable Minister for Communications and Digital Economy; Sen. Oluremi Tinubu; Brig-Gen Samad Akesode, Representative of NSA; Malam Kashifu Abdullahi Inuwa, Director-General, National Information and Technology Development Agency (NITDA); and Dr. Abimbola Alale, Director-General of NigComSat Photo: NCC

NCC commissions incident response facility for cybersecurity in Abuja

*The Minister for Communications and Digital Economy, Office of the National Security Adviser, lawmakers, others commend the Management of Nigerian Communications Commission on ensuring successful implementation of the project

*Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta, Executive Vice-Chairman of NCC, says the facility will strengthen telecoms infrastructure protection in the country

Gbenga Kayode | ConsumerConnect

In line with Nigeria’s National Cybersecurity Policy and Strategy (NCPS), published by the country’s Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA) for responding to cyberthreats within the ICT and telecoms ecosystem in the country, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has inaugurated an incident response facility in Abuja, FCT.

ConsumerConnect reports the telecoms regulatory Commission stated that the facility is aimed at addressing the incidence of cybercrimes, protecting telecoms infrastructure, and encouraging increased participation in the country’s digital economy.

A cybercriminal

The regulator in a statement said the NCC Centre for Computer Security Incident Response is the Commission’s industry-specific intervention.

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The Commission noted the objectives of the intervention are aligned with the National Cybersecurity Policy and Strategy (NCPS), which was published by the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA).

“The NCPS requires each sector to establish a computer incident response team provides requisite services to the stakeholders and players within each sector

“The overall mandate of the NCC-CSIRT is to ensure continuous improvement of processes and communication frameworks to guarantee secure and collaborative exchange of timely information while responding to cyber threats within the sector,” NCC stated.

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Prof. Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami, Honourable Minister for Communications and Digital Economy, in his address at the project commissioning during the weekend, in Abuja, described the Centre as a strategic step in boosting cybersecurity efforts in Nigeria.

The Minister commended the Board of NCC and Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta-led Management of the Commission for ensuring successful implementation of the project.

Prof. Pantami also noted that the commissioning of the facility marked an important milestone in the telecommunications industry in Nigeria.

He described it as a significant measure in the support of national efforts at protecting the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) infrastructure in the country.

The Minister stated: “The creation of the Centre is in line with the provisions of the National Cybersecurity Policy and Strategy (NCPS) document published by the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA), which was recently updated and launched by President Muhammadu Buhari in February 2021.

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“In keeping with the principles enshrined in the policy, each sector is expected to establish a sectoral Computer Incident Response Team (CSIRT) that provides requisite services to the constituents within that sector.”

In his address on the occasion, Prof. Danbatta, Executive Vice-Chairman and Chief Executive Officer (EVC/CEO) of NCC, stated that considering the increasing growth in Internet usage, especially as a consequence of the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Commission has observed a rise in cyber incidents and criminal activities.

Danbatta said: “The Commission recognises that with the borderless nature and pervasiveness of these incidents, relentless and concerted attention is required to protect Internet users as well as the Critical National Information Infrastructure and ensure they are resilient.”

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The NCC EVC/CEO as well emphasised that the NCC-CSIRT has been structured to operate within the framework of the NCPS and the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy (NDEPS) to assist the Nigerian communications sector with the management and coordination of cybersecurity incidents and threats.

He also noted that the CSIRT is established as a proactive step towards building trust and safety needed for growing the digital economy.

He further said: “The CSIRT’s services will commence with four main thrusts, namely: monitoring, incident management, communication, and alert and warning.

“The devices for handling these four areas will be scaled up and expanded as the Centre’s operations grow in order to enhance the digital economy and ensure it yields great dividends to the Nigerian citizens.”

According to him, the key mandates of the CSIRT, which will be achieved through collaborative effort with relevant stakeholders, organisations and agencies, include assisting the sector in the defence and response to major cyber threats and attacks targeted at the members within the sector, providing information, technical as well as policy advisories to the constituency to strengthen the defensive and response capabilities to cyber threats.

The Centre, Danbatta stated, is expected to liaise with other sectoral CSIRTs as well as local and international security frameworks to protect the communications sector and the general wellbeing of the Nigerian consumers.

He noted other mandates of the NCC-CSIRT are to provide guidance and direction for the constituents in dealing with issues relating to the security of critical infrastructure in their possession; and to periodically assess, review and collate the threat landscape, risks, and opportunities affecting the communications sector and provide advice to relevant stakeholders.

National Security Adviser comments on establishment of NCC-CSIRT

Meanwhile, Major-General Babagana Monguno (Rtd.), National Security Adviser (NSA), represented at the event by Brigadier General Samad Akesode, also acknowledged the establishment of NCC-CSIRT as a clear demonstration of the Commission’s resolve to join hands with the Federal Government in mitigating any risk that will emanate as the country embraces advanced technologies to facilitate digital transformation in the Nigerian economy.

According to NSA Monguno, by establishing the CSIRT, the NCC has taken a step that could only be described as “impeccable and timely”, and in conformity with the highest standards and international best practice, which aligns with the requirement of the Cybercrimes (Prohibition, Prevention, etc) Act 2015.”

In attendance at the event are the leadership of the National Assembly, including Senator Oluremi Tinubu, Chairman, Senate Committee on Communications; and Hon. Akeem Adeniyi Adeyemi, Chairman, Committee on Telecommunications, in the House of Representatives.

The Federal lawmakers also greatly applauded the Danbatta-led NCC for taking a leading position for sectoral implementation of the NCPS and improving security of cyberspace for all.

Others, who delivered goodwill messages, commended the Commission, and spoke about the significance of the CSIRT project to national economy and national security, include Mr. Bitrus Nabasu, Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy, as well as other Heads of agencies under the Ministry.

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