Since Data has become the most precious commodity in Nigeria and everywhere else, software theft and the act of stealing data has emerged as the topmost crime in the digital ecosystem.
Humanity has over time created a hidden character codified as stealing. Simply defined, stealing is to take another person’s (rightful owner’s) property and keeping it forcefully; wrongly, and illegally without permission. Ransomware attack has suddenly become an addicted profession. This habit has grown into multi-dimensional act of applying magic-bullet tactics to harm the rightful owner/s and cause immense damages and hardships to society.
To guard against the intruder thief, owners (nations, businesses and individuals) of products, properties and commodities have devised many protective means to deter the thief and minimize damages. In the last 50 years, the thief and the fearsome stealing syndrome have created a reaction of barricaded properties, products, and solutions by their owners.
All over Nigeria, government institution, corporate business premises and citizens homes are barricaded by strong iron gates; as well as walls, ferocious watchdogs, and strong security guards! This classifies Nigeria as a nation in bondage! Indeed, the iron barricades in our institutions, homes, and offices – if dismantled, can be used to build thousands of factories!
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Meanwhile, conventional wisdom suggests that the greatest vulnerability to national development is the failure to adequately protect her Software Ecosystem at all constructive levels.
Needless to state that the growing threat of Cybersecurity around the world and how it affects Nigeria is a worrisome tale by the moonlight. Informed sources collectively agree that with respect to Cybersecurity and embedded Cyberwars, the world hasn’t
seen nothing yet! The enormity of the overt and hidden challenges is multifaceted with many somersaults that outplay the shadows of a mirage.
No nation is left out of the ferocious Cyber-attacks and hits that occur in their millions per nanosecond! But how do we respond as a developing nation with deep appetite to acquire and consume what others have conceptualized and created as ‘one size fits all solutions’?
For the past three decades, Nigeria acquired and predominantly built her digital infrastructure and operational presence on proprietary solutions; indeed, at great cost to the state. But apart from the colossal run-away cost, the new reality is that we have become entangled in the digital spiderwebs with extraordinary capability to choke the life out of our future development trajectory.
Is Nigeria an exemplary hostage to proprietary software both at government, corporate business environment and citizens life cycle? Can we afford to perpetually rely on a national development strategy anchored only on a singular digital presence and solution without feasible alternatives to secure our sustainable development goals?
Indeed, now that we live in a world clued by algorithms, a perpetual dependence on one digital solution amounts to blindly swimming in a a cyber-ocean with a wholistic one-sided adoption strategy without a safeguard mechanism. That type of adoption strategy encumbers and elongates national digital risks – going forward. Warned by the alert that our digital future is currently being stolen; how do we respond to the cyber vulnerabilities in our nation?
To rewind, many sources agree and as we know, the good the bad and the ugly of the Operating Systems Software that drive the functionalities of many computing environment in the world today are descendants of the UNIX OS. Apart from Microsoft’s Windows NT-based operating systems; most of the Computer Operating System (nearly everything else) traces its heritage back to Unix.
For example, Linux, Mac OS X, Android, iOS, Chrome OS, Orbis OS used on the PlayStation 4; whatever firmware is running on your router, all these operating systems are often called “Unix-like” operating systems. This background becomes important as we navigate the ferocious digital current of the threat of Cybersecurity that has become the new reality of our digital evolution and transformation.
It must be stated that the cornerstone of a nation’s cyber vulnerability heavily rests on her national digital policy framework; robust infrastructure architecture and weak spots in their acquisition and adoption strategy for implementation. Indeed, before implementing a sustainable digital roadmap, nations must take a deep and longsighted look at the capabilities of available skillsets and consequences of adoption of externally offered solutions from the global marketplace.
They must weigh the risks, merits and demerits of the challenges and benefits of proprietary tools and solutions against other available options and solutions from the Open-source market space. Available records reveals that most High-tech enterprises and strategic e-Government Platforms are built on the Open-Source backbone.
For example, ‘the top tier of the Facebook network is made up of the Web servers that create the Web pages that users see; most with eight cores running 64-bit Linux and Apache. Many of the social network’s pages and features are created using PHP; a computer scripting language specialized for simple, automated functions. But Facebook also develops complex core applications using a variety of full-featured computer languages, including C++, Java, Python, and Ruby.
To manage the complexity of this approach, the company created Thrift. Thrift is an application framework that lets programs compiled from different languages work together.The bottom tier consists of eight-core Linux servers running MySQL, an open-source database server application. Rothschild estimates that Facebook has about 800 such servers distributing about 40 terabytes of user data.
This tier stores all the metadata about every object in the database, such as a person, photo, or event. The middle tier consists of caching servers. Even 800 database servers can’t serve up all the needed data. Facebook receives 15 million requests per second for both data and connections. Bulked-up cache servers, running Linux and the open-source Memcache software, fill the gap.
About 95 percent of data queries can be filled from the cache servers’ 15 terabytes of RAM; so that only 500,000 queries per second must be passed to the MySQL databases and their relatively slow hard drives.
Submissions from Aman Singh informs that ‘when information becomes an organization’s most valuable commodity; cybersecurity gains even more prominence. Therefore, it is paramount to protect the data from data leaks and malware threats from hackers. This is important to ensure the effective performance governance infrastructure; corporate business and to ultimately secure and maintain the hard-earned digital investment and integrity’.
There are indications that the advent of future-of-work latest versioning of Malware is expected to loom with disastrous consequences unless proactive actions are urgently deployed. With recent uptake in technological developments and the growing trend in remote work; digital process environments have expanded the volume of vulnerabilities.
Cyber Security Vulnerabilities are numerous and come in sizes. They range from Policy mismatch, Non-inclusive decision-making work-process; Inadequate skillsets and knowhow, absence of specialised knowledge institutions essentially focused on Cybersecurity.
Others include but not limited to: Poor Network Infrastructure Segmentation and Networking; Absent and/or poor digital security awareness; Weak Authentication and Credential Management; Poor and/or inadequate regulatory governance; Lack of Subnet Surveillance and Controls; Negligence and Inadequate Insider Monitoring; Zero or inadequate Firewalls; Mechanism; Poor Data Backup and Recovery Strategy; Poor Endpoint Security Defenses; Negligence of Continuous Training and Upskilling of Manpower; as well as Lack of Standard Documentation (Poor and Lack of Documentation Updates; Low or Shy Corporate Investment in Cybersecurity Tools and Infrastructure, amongst others.
Against the background of all the above digital blindfolds and vulnerabilities, unsurmountable digital disaster awaits nations with poor documentation and Data recovery knowhow. This can lead to national crisis at the Political, Governance, Financial System, Transportation, Corporate business, Energy; as well as Healthcare and Food security, Manpower and Labour Markets, Family structures and Societal trauma at many levels with untold consequences.
Meanwhile, deep thinking demands that nations must urgently reconsider their digital roadmap and safeguard their digital future. One way to resolve the equation is to navigate the cyber-infested digital atmosphere by balancing their total dependence of proprietary-centric solution through the mastery of Open-Source Solutions.
In other words, they should commence the adventure by applying a 60-40% or preferably a 70-30% adoption strategy in favour of Open-Source solutions. For Government operations, it should be 100% Open Source.