According to the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Prof. Isa Pantami, Nigeria experienced over 3,834,244 cyber-attacks during the recent gubernatorial and State Assembly elections. These attacks originated from both within and outside the country.
Pantami gave a breakdown of these attacks, stating that 1,046,896 attacks were recorded on Friday, March 17, 2023, 1,481,847 on Saturday, March 18, 2023, 327,718 on Sunday, March 19, 2023 and 977,783 on Monday, March 20, 2023.
The minister noted that the number of cyber-attacks during the gubernatorial and states’ assembly elections was much lower than those of the presidential and National Assembly elections. He explained that this was expected because the presidential and National Assembly elections attracted more attention from cyber threat actors, due to Nigeria’s status as Africa’s largest democracy.
Pantami was confident that the implementation of some recommendations and measures taken to fortify Nigeria’s cyber defence mechanisms may have helped in reducing cyber-attacks during the elections.
The minister had previously directed the Ministerial Standing Committee on Advisory Role for the Protection of Nigerian Cyberspace and ICT Infrastructure to enhance the cyberspace surveillance activities of the three cybersecurity centres of the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) and Galaxy Backbone Limited (GBB) – a statement by the minister’s senior technical assistant on research and development, Dr. Femi Adeluyi, said.
Recall that the committee, formed before the 2023 general elections, was responsible for monitoring and enhancing the resilience of digital infrastructure, preventing and responding to cyber-attacks, conducting risk assessments, and advising the government on the effective use of technology during the elections.
During the period from March 17 to March 20, 2023, the committee provided close oversight on the activities of the cybersecurity centres and recorded a series of hacking attempts, including distributed denial of service (DDoS), email and internet protocol spoofing (IPS) attacks, SSH login attempts, brute forced injection attempts, path traversal, detection evasion, and forceful browsing. In total, Nigeria recorded over 3 million cyber-attacks during the gubernatorial and states’ assembly elections.
Pantami reiterated that Nigeria’s successful transition into the digital economy would not have been possible without the support of President Muhammadu Buhari and his administration. The Minister expressed his appreciation for the President’s unprecedented support for the digital economy sector.
In conclusion, the minister’s report highlights the need for continued efforts to enhance Nigeria’s cyber defence mechanisms to prevent cyber-attacks during future elections and in the country’s transition to a digital economy.