INEC server records 12m cyber-attacks during presidential poll – Pantami

Isa Ali Pantami, Minister of Communication and Digital Economy of Nigeria on Tuesday acknowledged that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) server recorded more than 12 million attacks were recorded from both within and outside Nigeria Cyber space including INEC Server on February 25.

According to him, the Committee, set up chaired by the Board Chairman of Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) and with the CEOs of NCC, NITDA and Galaxy Backbone (GBB) as members, charged with the following responsibilities of protecting the cyberspace successfully blocked these attacks and escalated them to the relevant institutions for appropriate action.

In a statement signed by Uwa Suleiman, spokesperson to the minister, she said the activities of the committee started on February 24, 2023 and ended on February 28,2023.

She said: “During this period, a series of hacking attempts were recorded, including Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS), email and IPS attacks, SSH Login Attempts, Brute force Injection attempts, Path Traversal, Detection Evasion, and Forceful Browsing.

“A total of 12,988,978 attacks were recorded, originating from both within and outside Nigeria. It is worth noting that the centres successfully blocked these attacks and/or escalated them to the relevant institutions for appropriate action.” Suleiman said

The Minister, while acknowledging the import of the committee to Nigeria’s cyber space, added: “Developing and implementing plans to enhance the resilience of critical digital infrastructure against cyber threats, designing procedures and using technologies to prevent, detect, and respond to cyber-attacks.

“As well as developing the ability to recover from any damage that is done quickly, developing a comprehensive risk assessment, analysing the nation’s current cybersecurity capabilities, and identifying gaps that need to be addressed and providing professional advice to the government on the effective utilisation of digital technologies in the conduct of the 2023 General Elections.”

According to him, it is worth noting that in the run-up to the 2023 general elections, threat intelligence revealed an astronomical increase in cyber threats to Nigerian cyberspace, explaining that generally, threats to public websites and portals averaged 1,55 million daily.

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However, this skyrocketed to 6.99 million on presidential election day and monitoring Nigeria’s Cyberspace before, during and after the 2023 presidential elections.

Pantami, said: “As part of its mandate, the Ministry is expected to ensure adequate protection of Nigeria’s cyberspace to a level that citizens will have confidence in digital services. This mandate aligns with the goals and objectives of the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy for a Digital Nigeria (NDEPS).

“In line with this mandate and in our efforts at supporting the initiatives of securing the Nigerian cyberspace, the parastatals under the supervision of the Ministry have established Cybersecurity Centers, namely, the National Information Technology (NITDA)’s Computer Emergency Readiness and Response Team (CERRT), NCC’s Computer Security Incident Response Team (CSIRT), and GBB’s Security Operations Centre (SOC).

“These Centers were established between 2020 and 2022 in line with the Minister’s policy directives and have been monitoring Nigerian cyberspace for potential threats and taking appropriate actions to mitigate them, both individually and collectively as well as in collaboration with other stakeholders.

As a professor of cybersecurity and one that is very passionate about ensuring a safe and secure cyberspace, Pantami, directed all the parastatals to enhance their 24/7 monitoring of the networks and traffic for potential attacks from February 24, 2023 to February 27, 2023, stressing that accounted for the setting up of the committee on for the Protection of Nigerian Cyberspace and ICT Infrastructure.

He said that the parastatals, under the supervision of the ministry have played a crucial role in providing the enabling environment for the successful conduct of a credible, free, fair, and transparent election. The Minister commends all stakeholders in the digital economy ecosystem for their support that resulted into this unprecedented success.

More importantly, the Minister notes that “These attainments are as a result of the commitment of the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari, towards ensuring Nigeria’s successful transition into the digital economy.

“The digital economy sector has enjoyed continued support of the President and it is highly appreciated. He also hopes that lessons learned during the process will be put to effective use in subsequent elections.” he said.