Expert calls for national body to combat cyber threats
A telecommunications security expert, Major Emmanuel Owusu- Adansi has suggested the establishment of a functional independent national body to combat the threats cyber crimes pose to the development of Information Communication Technology (ICT) and internal security in Ghana.
He said the country needed to redouble its efforts at countering the negative effects of the ICT environment, considering the widespread, aggressive, growing and increasingly sophisticated nature of cyber crimes, which held implications for national and economic security.
“ICT is becoming essential in the economic and social development of every country, including Ghana; the benefits accruing from the access to the internet are being undercut by those exploiting its capabilities to the detriment and harm of others.
“The increasing dependence of electricity generation, transmission and distribution; telecommunications; financial services on ICT must concern all our security operatives…We must ensure that these systems are secure”, he said, insisting that steps should immediately be taken to decrease the vulnerability of Ghana.
Maj. Owusu-Adansi, who is also the Director of Special Projects at the National Communications Authority (NCA), made the suggestion in Accra at a day’s seminar on the management of Cyber security in Ghana, organized by the Penuel Technology, a security consultancy and advocacy group.
The Seminar which was on the theme: “Management of Cyber Security in Contemporary Ghana: The Way Forward”, was aimed at sensitizing the country’s security managers, national institutions and corporate Ghana on the growth and security challenges of the ICT environment.
Maj. Owusu-Adansi suggested that such a national body, which could be christened “National Cyberspace Commission” that derived its authority from the Presidency, could among others be mandated to develop a coordinated national cyberspace security response system to prevent, detect, deter, respond to and recover from cyber incidents.
The body should facilitate the enactment and enforcement of a comprehensive set of laws relating to cyber security and cyber crime consistent with provisions of the 2001 Convention on Cyber Crime.
Additionally, he said, that the body should become the focal point of managing cyber incidents that brought together critical elements from government, industry, ICT systems and infrastructure operators to reduce the risk and severity of incidents.
Maj. Owusu-Adansi also suggested that such an entity should be mandated to create awareness in government agencies, corporate institutions, schools, religious bodies and social clubs entities of the importance and challenges of the cyber technology and how citizens and organisation can insulate themselves from harm.
He said that body should also develop and test emergency response plans to ensure effective coordination in crisis, and to promote a national culture of security consciousness, consistent with the UN General Assembly Resolution 58/199, that calls for a creation of a global culture of cyber security and the protection of critical information infrastructures.
The security expert proposed that such a functional body could comprise representatives from several national and corporate institutions including the National Security Council, the national Information Technology Agency (NITA), the NCA, the Ghana Armed Forces, the Ghana Police and major telecommunications service providers.
Others are the Ghana Internet Service Providers Association, the Ghana Association of Software Companies, the Ministry of Communications, Association of internet café operators, the Volta River Authority and its affiliates-Gridco, and ECG, the Academia, the Association of Ghana Industries and the Association of Bankers.
Maj. Owusu-Adansi indicated that funding for the body could be sourced from government, industry; levy on the use of ICT and from other international bodies that dealt with ICT.
He maintained that such a partnership between government and industry would provide a platform for harnessing a diversity of perspectives, equities and knowledge needed for security at the national level.
The telecommunications engineer also advocated that the police Service and the Judiciary be trained extensively on the use of ICT and laws relating to the cyberspace and other laws that were in the process of enactment.
He was emphatic that these recommendations, if adopted, would promote cyber security and enable the country build confidence in the use of ICT for national development.
Dr. Osei Darkwah, President of the Telecom University, said that the future of the country depended heavily in the use of ICT to transform the economy, stressing the need to put systems in place to ensure that people understood the advantages and the negativities of ICT.
He also stressed on the need for a national cyber space strategy to address issues of security in that sphere, saying, “There is the need for national organizations to liaise with systems managers nationwide to deal with cyber crime”.
“Information can be a shield and a sword at the same time…We need to harness the positive sides of ICT and develop the ability to manage the negative side as well”.
Participants at the seminar were drawn from the various security agencies and some corporate institutions.
Even though the participants were unanimous in the support of the recommendations, some suggested that bodies such as the NCA and the recently- inaugurated NITA be given the mandate to deal with such issues arising out of the use of ICT.