FG moves to amend Cybercrime Act over hazard of AI, other emerging technologies

The National Security Adviser, Mr. Nuhu Ribadu, has said that the Federal Government is currently putting measures in place to amend the 2015 Cybercrimes Act to cater to issues originating from developing technologies such as AI.

Ribadu disclosed this on Wednesday at a two-day conference by the Cyber Security Experts Association of Nigeria (CSEAN) in Abuja, under the theme “Cybersecurity: A Digital Transformative Tool in Achieving Sustainable Development Goals’’.

Represented by the Manager of Nigeria Computer Emergency Response Team (ngCERT), Dr. Bala Fakandu, Ribadu recognized the existence of emerging technologies that bad state actors are already leveraging to perform cybercrimes.

Emerging Technologies and the Future

While noting that the government would continue to ensure the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of critical information systems because cybersecurity is an enabler for a better and more sustainable future, the NSA said:

“As we embrace the rapid evolution of technology, we must be mindful of new and exciting areas such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), machine learning, and blockchain technologies that will continue to affect the future.

“This is bearing in mind that criminal elements are already exploiting new technologies to progress their illicit activities. Consequently, the FG is currently making efforts to amend the Cybercrimes Act 2015 and the issue of AI and virtual assets are amongst several critical inputs from stakeholders being considered.”

Ribadu further said that the Federal Government considered cybersecurity incident management and protection of Critical National Information Infrastructure (CNII) as a vital component for national development.

According to him, the Presidential Order on the designation and protection of CNII currently awaiting President Bola Tinubu’s assent will enhance Nigeria’s current efforts for progressive economic prosperity, national development, and attainment of national security objectives.

“This underscores the need for continuous cybersecurity awareness in the wake of increased cyber threats from both states and non-state actors,’’ he added.

The NSA said that Nigeria had recorded remarkable strides in cybersecurity by fostering international cooperation and collaborations to combat cyber threats, thereby making her a trusted player in the global digital space.

Cybercrime concerns

Also speaking, the President of CSEAN, Mr. Ade Shoyinka, said that the continued perpetration of cybercrime by non-state actors without adequate proactive measures would jeopardize Nigeria’s chances of achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of 2030.

With 17 goals and 169 targets, Soyinka said the world cannot attain the SDGs without considering the role of technology and cyber security.

He decried that the activities of cyber criminals have become rampant and crippling economies, while some services of cybercrime are being distributed in the public domain.

“The availability of cryptocurrency has also made it easier to conduct transactions anonymously, further fuelling the growth of Ransomware as a service. One such is Genesis Marketplace, available both on the dark web and the public internet; this is like selling a banned substance in a supermarket.

“This service provides an avenue for attackers to buy digital fingerprints, making it possible for entry-level cybercriminals to purchase malware, malware deployment services, and sell stolen credentials and other data in bulk.

“The bad actors will continue to undermine our ability to achieve the SDGs, considering the significance of cybercrime about achieving the SDGs, the greater our chances of countering the efforts of bad actors who seek to hinder our progress,’’ he said.

The CSEAN President called on governments, the private sector, and civil society groups to unite to thwart cyber threats.

Edited by Damilola Adeleke

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