CYBERSECURITY

Global Cybersecurity Index 2020: Nigeria Posts Stellar Performance

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  • Makes the U50 League Globally; U10 Regionally

By Clifford Agugoesi, Editor-in-Chief

Unlike the spate of rejections that usually follows when global rating agencies score the country below par in key performance indices that underpine their reports, many Nigerians are likely going to be satisfied with the stellar performance achieved by their country in the just released Global Cybersecurity Index(GCI) by global telecommunications regulator,  the International Telecommunications Union(ITU).

Of all ITU member countries, the United States of America with a score of 100 per cent, leads the pack while Micronesia, the Vatican and Yemen are tied in the 182nd position  jointly with zero per cent because of “no data collected” and “no response to the questionnaire.” Nigeria with a score of 84.76 per cent was placed 47th on the global scale and placed 4th on the regional scale.  Mauritius with a score of 96.89 per cent is placed 17th on the global scale and 1st on the regional radar.

The Global Cybersecurity Index (GCI) was first launched in 2015 by the ITU to measure the commitment of 193 ITU Member States and the State of Palestine to help them identify areas of improvement and encourage countries to take action, through raising awareness on the state of cybersecurity worldwide.

 As cybersecurity risks, priorities, and resources evolve, the GCI has also adapted to give a more accurate snapshot of cybersecurity measures taken by countries.

The GCI report aims to better understand countries’ commitments to cybersecurity, identify gaps, encourage the incorporation of good practices, and provide useful insights for countries to improve their cybersecurity postures.

Countries have reported using the GCI to facilitate:

• discussions through formally established forums that enable self-assessments and better

coordination;

• gathering insights about overall national initiatives and resources used to manage

cybersecurity at the national level;

• benchmarking against good practices, partners, and regional neighbours;

• awareness raising among various stakeholders on coordination needs at a national level.

The GCI results show overall improvement and strengthening of all five pillars of the cybersecurity

agenda, but that regional gaps in cybercapacity persist. Illustrative practices by countries have

been highlighted in the report.

Director, ITU Telecommunication Development Bureau, Doreen Bogdan-Martin stated: “The need for a safe and secure cyberspace has become more important than ever, especially as we all grow increasingly dependent on “digital lifelines”. One of the greatest challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic has been finding ways to meaningfully connect with each other, despite uncertainty, anxiety, and change.

Even prior to the pandemic, cybersecurity was essential to keeping us safe online so that we could carry out critical day-to-day functions.   I am inspired by people’s ability to adapt to this uncertain environment, and their use of technology to find creative solutions.

Many organizations, including the International Telecommunication Union, have grappled with new challenges stemming from remote work. Cybersecurity is fundamentally intertwined with remote work, from managing video call participants, to making sure that documents are shared safely. ITU has therefore continued to work together with countries to be more efficient, more active, and deliver impact in the areas where we are needed the most.

When the Global Cybersecurity Index was first launched in 2015, few people could have imagined the situation that we currently find ourselves in. This latest iteration of the Global Cybersecurity Index will help promote further action towards secure digital ecosystems needed for recovery and growth, by measuring the types of cybersecurity commitments countries have made and their prevalence.

This iteration reveals that many countries are making progress in their commitments to responding to cybersecurity challenges, despite opportunistic actors that have taken advantage of our desire for information, our fears about the pandemic, shift to working from home and remote learning, dependence on healthcare systems, and more.

The Global Cybersecurity Index report shows that many countries enacted new cybersecurity legislation and regulations to address areas such as privacy, unauthorized access, and online safety. It also emphasizes the need to establish strategies and mechanisms to build capacity and help governments and businesses better prepare for and mitigate growing cyber risks.

More than half of the world’s countries now have a computer incident response team (CIRT) and almost two-thirds have some form of a national cybersecurity strategy guiding their overall cybersecurity posture.

The Global Cybersecurity Index reveals that cybersecurity is truly a developmental issue, and that there is an urgent need to address the growing cybercapacity gap between developed and developing countries by fostering knowledge, upskilling, and building competencies. We need to close this gap by going to the roots and building capacity in terms of digital infrastructure, digital skills, and resources in the developing world.

I hope the Global Cybersecurity Index will continue to be a useful capacity development tool to governments, policy makers, cybersecurity experts and academia in identifying areas for improvement and highlighting best practices for strengthening national cybersecurity.

I would like to thank countries for their valuable engagement and contribution to this effort, especially for their involvement during the development, data collection, and validation of this iteration of the Index. I would also like to thank all of those involved in the study group process for their support and direction. I invite all ITU Member States to continue updating us on their progress on cybersecurity related commitments, so that we can effectively share experiences, research, and solutions to create a trusted cyberspace for all.”

The Index maps 82 questions on Member State cybersecurity commitments across five pillars namely:

• legal measures; • technical measures; • organizational measures; • capacity development measures; • cooperation measures.

Legal measures

Measures based on the existence of legal frameworks dealing with cybersecurity and cybercrime.

Legal measures (including legislation, regulation, and containment of spam legislation) authorize a state to set up basic response mechanisms through investigation and prosecution of crimes and the imposition of sanctions for non-compliance or breach of law. A legislative framework sets the minimum foundation of behaviour on which further cybersecurity capabilities can be built. Fundamentally, the objective is to have sufficient legislation in place in order to harmonize practices at the regional/ international level and simplify international combat against cybercrime.

Technical measures

Measures based on the existence of technical institutions and framework dealing with cybersecurity.

Efficient ICT development and use can only prosper in an environment of trust and security. Countries therefore need to build and install accepted minimum-security criteria and accreditation schemes for software applications and systems. These efforts need to be complemented by the implementation of a national body dealing with cyber incidents, an authoritative government entity and a national framework to watch, warn, and respond to incidents.

Organizational measures

Measures based on the existence of coordination institutions, policies, and strategies for cybersecurity development at the national level. Organizational measures include the identification of cybersecurity objectives and strategic plans, as well as the formal definition of institutional roles, responsibilities, and accountabilities to ensure their implementation. These measures are indispensable for endorsing

the elaboration and implementation of an effective cybersecurity posture. Broad strategic targets and goals need to be set by the state, along with an all-inclusive plan in implementation, delivery, and measurement. National agencies must be present to implement the strategy and evaluate the outcome. Without a national strategy, governance model, and supervisory body, efforts in different sectors become conflicted, preventing efforts to obtain an effective harmonization in cybersecurity development.

Capacity building measures

Measures based on the existence of research and development, education and training programmes, certified professionals and public sector agencies fostering capacity building.

Capacity building includes public awareness campaigns, framework for certification and accreditation of cybersecurity professionals, professional training courses in cybersecurity, educational programmes or academic curricula, etc. This pillar is intrinsic to the first three pillars (legal, technical and organizational). Cybersecurity is most often tackled from a technological perspective even though there are numerous socio-economic and political implications. Human and institutional capacity building is essential to raise awareness, knowledge and the know-how across sectors, for systematic and appropriate solutions, and to promote the development of qualified professionals.

Cooperative measures

Measures based on the existence of partnerships, cooperative frameworks and information sharing networks. Due to the unprecedented level of interconnection between states, cybersecurity is a

shared responsibility and a transnational challenge. Greater cooperation can enable the development of much stronger cybersecurity capabilities, helping to mitigate cyber risks and enable better investigation, apprehension and prosecution of malicious agents.

As per the GCI 2020, despite the Africa region not leading in the technical field, six additional CIRTs have been developed since the 2018 Global Cybersecurity Index, the region has improved from 13 to 19 countries having a national CIRT. The Americas region has 21 CIRTs, and the Arab States region

has 17 countries with a national CIRT. However, only two countries in the CIS region and six in Europe lack national CIRTs.

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