NITDA: Fixing Cyber Security with Sound PR Strategy
By Kabir Abdulsalam
No doubt, cybercrime is increasing each day and evolving to become more complex and more formidable. As it is possible for government agencies like the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB), Nigerian Army Education Corps (NAEC), Nigeria Police Force, and others to have their websites hacked, private organizations are equally vulnerable.
For instance, the registrar of JAMB, Professor Ishaq Oloyede, while speaking to journalists had disclosed that hackers had stolen over N10 million after gaining access to its site and altering the profiles of its ad hoc staff.
In 2011, cyberpunks also attacked two Nigerian government websites, Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) and National Agency for Poverty Alleviation to protest against the $6 million budget for the inauguration ceremony of President Goodluck Jonathan.
Again, during ENDSARS protests in 2020, Anonymous, a popular decentralized international ‘hacktivist’ group took the side of Nigerian protesters by organizing several attacks against government accounts and handles.
As Nigerians become cyber-creatures, spending more time online, exploring more digital contents, so does cybercrime affects a huge number of organisations and individuals.
Recently, the Director-General, National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), Kashifu Inuwa Abdullahi, announced its ambitious target to achieve 95 percent digital literacy by 2030.
Kashifu, at a digital journalism workshop organised for journalists in Kano, noted that the government had put structures in place to protect the ecosystem under its strategic roadmap and action plans on cybersecurity.
He said: “Cybersecurity is one of the strategic pillars under our strategic roadmap and action plan which is more about social engineering. So, we do three things. We do a lot of awareness so that people need to know the dos and don’ts of social media. That’s what will hold them to protect confidential information.
“We have a centre called the computer emergency readiness and response centre working round the clock to make sure we proactively protect our digital space. We help MDAs, private organisations, and individuals to protect the data and information.”
He further revealed that the agency has people trying to get inside from what’s happening in the deep web and dark web all to proactively protect the country, adding that a team of professionals are also on standby to help people restore their services in case their system is compromised.
Arguably, many organizations in the world have been cyber-breached, the probability of a cyber breach happening to a regular company is increasing and the impact could be devastating.
Meanwhile, as PR practices involve in engaging damage control; the aftermath of the attacks, can lead to loss of revenue, stolen data or money, data restoration services, and many more, yet the biggest fear of a cyber breach is the damage to organizations’ brand, resulting in a loss of trust with clients, partners, employees, and stakeholders.
While PR professionals will be restless during crises, so also during internet breaches. Notwithstanding, a responsive PR professional needs to swing into action, building strategic response quickly and confidently to make sure their messages resonate and grab the attention of the media, stakeholders, and the masses.
The good news, though, is that planning will ensure quick and confident management that will garner public and customer trust and protect the business image.
Danny Pehar, a Forbes Technology Council scholar has suggested some key phrases while responding to cyber-attacks; Be Quick To Respond, And Sincere, Only Report On What You Know, Know The Channels Of Communication Clearly, Offer Restoration Services.
Your audience needs to be informed on how their information may be at risk. Apologizing to them sincerely for the disruption and inconvenience while accepting responsibility takes power away from hackers and gives it to you.
Truly, to regain audience trust, you need to outline a mitigation strategy. Explain to the public what steps you are taking to ensure safety and how secure the network is to protect clients’ information.
From a PR standpoint, communicating with the public needs to be clear and simple. Avoid messages that will generate curiosity for stakeholders and the press.
Demonstrate social empathy while responding to questions as anything that can damage a company’s brand to the point of no return needs a well-thought-out PR strategy.
Kabir Abdulsalam is a Staff Writer Spokespersons Digest