The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has inaugurated an incident response facility aimed at addressing incidents of cybercrimes, protecting telecoms infrastructure and encouraging increased participation in the nation’s digital economy.
The NCC Center for Computer Security Incident Response is the Commission’s industry-specific intervention, whose objectives are aligned to the National Cybersecurity Policy and Strategy (NCPS) published by the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA).
The NCPS requires each sector to establish a computer incident response team and 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.
Speaking during the commissioning of the project in Abuja at the weekend, the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Prof. Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami, described the Center as a strategic step in boosting cybersecurity in Nigeria and commended the Board of NCC and Danbatta-led Management of the Commission for ensuring successful implementation of the project.
Pantami noted that the commissioning of the Facility marks an important milestone in the telecommunications industry in Nigeria, and described it as a significant measure in the support of national efforts at protecting the information and communication technology infrastructure in the country.
“The creation of the Center 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. 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,” the Minister said.
In his address at the event, the Executive Vice Chairman of NCC, Prof. Umar Danbatta stated that, considering the increasing growth in Internet usage, especially as a consequence of the outbreak of the pandemic, the Commission observed a rise in cyber incidents and criminal activities.
“Thus, 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”, Danbatta said.
The EVC 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 cyber security incidents and threats.
He noted that the CSIRT is established as a proactive step towards building trust, and safety needed for growing the digital economy.
“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,” Danbatta said.
Danbatta explained that 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 is also to liaise with other sectoral CSIRTs as well as local and international security frameworks to protect the communications sector and the general well being of the Nigerian people.
Other mandates of the NCC-CSIRT, highlighted by Danbatta, 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.
Meanwhile, the National Security Adviser (NSA), Major General Babagana Monguno (Retd), who was 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 technology to facilitate digital transformation in the country.
According to 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 practices which aligns with the requirement of the Cybercrimes (Prohibition, Prevention etc) Act, 2015.”
Leadership of the National Assembly, including the Chairman, Senate Committee on Communications, Senator Oluremi Tinubu and the Chairman, Committee on Telecommunications in the House of Representatives, Akeem Adeyemi also profoundly 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, including the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy, Mr. Bitrus Nabasu as well as other heads of agencies in the Ministry.