Cybersecurity stakeholders under the auspices of Information Security Society of Africa – Nigeria (ISSAN), have called on the Federal government, Independent National Election Commission (INEC) and other relevant bodies to put measures in place to guard against cyber-attacks in the conduct of the forthcoming elections.
The cyber experts who spoke at the ISSAN Monthly Cybersecurity Forum organized in Lagos opined that the elections face potential digital threats, stressing that all hands must be on the deck to ensure transparent elections and maintain the integrity of the nation’s democratic process.
ISSAN therefore charged the National Electoral Commission (INEC) to urgently conduct a Cyber-Resilience Review of its systems and the electoral process to ensure full readiness for the polls.
It stated that there was need for full evaluation of election cybersecurity capabilities across Asset, Controls, Vulnerability and Service Continuity Management, also noting that securing the complex supply chains serving the election infrastructure is a critical mission and a comprehensive risk analysis is an important component of this election.
In his presentation titled: ‘Cyber-securing the Nigerian 2023 Elections: Issues, Challenges and Cyber-incident Prevention Recommendations for Immediate Consideration’, an international cyber security expert, Dr. Austine Ohwobete, said system vulnerabilities and threats could totally disrupt the reliability and stability of the electoral process.
He further restated the need to pay closer attention to cyber intrusions to voting machines and voter accreditation systems which are capable of diminishing the overall public confidence in the elections.
Citing the case of the U.S. elections in 2020, Dr. Ohwobete, said there were no indications that any foreign actor attempted to alter any technical aspect of the voting process in the elections, including voter registration, casting ballots, vote tabulation, or reporting results.
He however noted that some foreign actors, such as Iran and Russia, spread false or inflated claims about alleged compromises of voting systems to undermine public confidence in the election processes and results.
“Nigerians are however optimistic that their votes will count without digital interference.” He stated.
In his contribution, ISSAN President, Dr. David Isiavwe, said National assets are proving to be the new target for cybercriminals, stressing that early vulnerability remediation, continuous awareness, training, and layered security remain key to strengthening every organization’s security posture.
According to him, “we have seen how daring the cybercriminals could be, targeting the crown jewels (data) of organizations and individuals alike. Over the past few weeks, we saw different kinds of digital frauds as well as attempts by the bad guys to take advantage of unsuspecting victims.
“Sustainability and profitability of businesses now depend heavily on how much Organizations can keep cyber thieves from exploiting their systems and assets.”
ISSAN is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to the protection of Nigeria’s cyberspace specifically and the entire cyberspace in Africa generally.