Ghana Not Immune To Cyber Attacks – Nana

President Nana Akufo-Addo

President Nana Akufo-Addo has urged a concerted effort to protect Ghana’s cyber architecture, saying the West African nation is not immune to cyber-attacks as is being witnessed across the world.

The President made the observation in a speech read on his behalf by the Minister of Interior, Ambrose Dery at the closing ceremony of the 2019 Cybersecurity Month in Accra.

In his speech, the President made references to recent cyber attacks in the city of Baltimore, United States of America; Bulgaria, in Europe, and Johannesburg in South Africa, and observed the devastations caused to businesses and citizens due to the attacks.

According to him, “we are not immune to these attacks and our reliance of ICT moving forward will leave our Critical National Information Infrastructure susceptible to attacks if precautionary measures are not instituted.”

He called for key measures already put in place by his administration to be sustained, saying that all these measures are necessary because according to the World Economic Forum, economic loss due to cybercrime is predicted to reach $3 trillion by 2020 and 74% of the world’s businesses can expect to be hacked in the coming year.

Indeed, he noted, examples of such attacks abound as countries around the world experience incidents of cybercrime.

For the second time in just over a year, the city of Baltimore in the United States, was hit by a ransomware attack, affecting its computer network and forcing officials to shut down a majority of its computer servers as a precaution, he added.

The President explained that in July this year, Bulgaria, a country with a population of 7 million became the target of a cybercrime that led to the biggest breach in its history, compromising the systems of its National Revenue Authority and leaking the National Identification Numbers of 5 million adult citizens.

“This in turn released records on revenues, tax, and social security payments dating as far back as 2007. News of such incidents are not endemic to Europe and the Americas alone,” he said.

He added that right here on the African continent, residents in Johannesburg, the largest city in South Africa, were left in the dark for hours after the city’s power company got attacked by a ransomware virus which prevented prepaid customers from buying electricity units, uploading invoices when making payments or accessing the City’s official power website.

These attacks, according to him, have serious implications on national security as the development of ICT in the world’s digitally driven economies has created problems that intrinsically relates to national security.

The use of the internet and cyberspace for criminal offending including the use of ICTs for terrorist communications, the use of darkweb to facilitate drug trade and illicit sales of weapons, the use of internet for human trafficking based recruitment as well as other malicious use of ICT are critical concerns to the security and stability of the economic, social and political order, globally, according to Mr. Akufo-AddoAddo.

To secure Ghana’s digital journey therefore, he said, his Government has tasked the National Cyber Security Centre, through the Ministry of Communications, to ensure the security of Ghana’s digital space.

” I am reliably informed, that Ghana’s National Cybersecurity Policy and Strategy (NCPS) have been reviewed to reflect current cybersecurity developments and are consistent with international best practices. The NCPS, which covers a 5 year period, will provide the national direction towards enhancing cybersecurity in Ghana,” he said.

He added that a priority area of this Policy and Strategy is capacity Building and awareness creation which will build on what the Ministry of Communications begun about two and half years ago.

Awareness, Financing

Minister of Communications, Ursula Owusu-Ekuful, called for the scaling up of cybersecurity awareness and investment in Ghana.

The move, she said, is critical to protecting the country’s cyber architecture and citizens.

She expressed the hope that in the 2020 Budget, the Finance Minister would make a concrete statement about the Cybersecurity Fund.

The National Cybersecurity Advisor, Dr Albert Antwi-Boasiako, in his welcome remarks, observed that the next steps of Ghana’s cybersecurity journey will not be complete without addressing the issue of financing.

According to him, across the developed and developing world, states have established sustainable financing mechanisms to fund their cybersecurity development.

He revealed that the United Kingdom (UK) was investing about £ 1.9 billion, starting from 2016 to 2021 to fund its national cybersecurity strategy.

Nigeria, he said, has introduced a levy on electronic transactions, representing 0.005 percent of all electronic transmission, to fund its Cybersecurity.

“Togo, has established a sovereign cybersecurity fund with contributions from telecommunication service operators based on their annual revenue,” he said.

BY Melvin Tarlue