A few days ago, it was reported that the website of the NDDC, a Nigerian Federal Parastatal was hacked by the NaijaCyberHactivists. The site was taken down, restored, rehacked and then taken down. This is the second Parastatal that is getting is this treatment. The first was the website of the National Assembly. Their grudge with the government then and now is the excessive amount of money used for the celebration of events when a lot of basic issues are yet to be addressed by the government.
This time around, the have gone further; they have threatened to cripple financial systems in the Country.
At first I wanted to dismiss their threat since I question their present capability carry out attacks on bigger targets like financial institutions. Taking down a website is quite easy, a bit of Googling can show you how to ‘hack’ any CMS site.
Then I remembered the wise words of my forefathers
“Na from clap na’im dance dey start”. (Meaning: big things start small)
A bit of history.
When the militants of the Niger Delta Areas of Nigeria began agitating, they were dismissed as common criminals. I warned that if not curtailed and nipped in the bud by looking into their demands, it would go out of control. Well, the ‘amateur militants’ showed will, international illegal oil ‘bunkerers’ showed the way and we started seeing highly trained and equipped young men comfortably holding the government to ransom. It is said the militants, got weapons and training in exchange for access to cheap crude oil.
Money became involved and quite a large percentage of the ‘freedom fighters’ became wealthy and powerful criminals.
The country is still paying for being slow to respond to the threats properly
Back to the present.
If things are not properly handled, this is what will happen.
The hackers might not have the capability to wreck havoc on Nigeria’s financial and telecoms infrastructure presently, but they are one URL or IRC chat room away from learning the way. Hackers can get support across borders. It only takes the NaijaCyberhactivists’s getting the attention/support of a powerful group online and we would be fighting a much tougher battle. Money will be made and a few will lose sight of their stated goal of keeping government in check etc. It will be harder to curtail. Much harder.
Nigeria’s Internet economy is growing and we do not need unwarranted security challenges so early, especially when we are still trying to get people to make payments online. A high security breach on financial institutions will erode confidence in the system. Not good.
So how do we move forward?
I might not be so sure about how to proceed, but I am definitely sure how not to proceed. Legislating or bullying your way out. Do not get me wrong, the technology sector needs a bit of regulation, to protect consumer from businesses e.t.c but not as a response to hackers fighting for a cause especially one which has public sympathy. Ask SONY what happened when they attacked one of ‘their own’
I dare say that the people behind this are unemployed and are truly unhappy with the system. They have the hunger and drive to tackle challenges technically. If you leave such hands idle, they will come back to fight the system they believe is responsible for their plight.
Even though anonymous, they can me engaged, employed and redirected towards more constructive things like building or working for companies. (Assuming the government is ready to tackle the problems they are raising) .
The federal government has to take science and technology serious. Agencies like NIRA, NITDA and co need to be overhauled. They have failed continuously in harnessing our IT brains. (I will speak on NIRA at a later time)
It would be extremely pathetic if our brightest ‘hackers’ grow up as outlaws. Let us nip it early.
Of course, those close the Presidency/government are already submitting their IT security proposals. Thats cool, but if the long term and core issues are not taken care of as I have outlined above, it would be bas for us all.
While I was writing this post I learned that the National Assembly site was hacked again. see screenshot
It would be nice if I can get them to respond.
PS: pardon spelling errors. I just don’t see them. If it is any consolation I had C6 in English. if it is just too bad, let me know in the comments and I will correct them.