Government is to establish a National Cyber Security Centre, which will liaise with relevant state agencies and the private sector to oversee cyber security operations in the country.

Cybercrime, if not checked, can undermine government’s e-government initiatives such as the national identification system, the digital addressing system, e-payments and digital financial services.

At the opening of the National Cyber-Security Week on Monday in Accra, President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo said Cyber-security issues were now firmly national security threats, adding that “Ghana cannot fully reap the digital dividends, associated with her adoption of ICT as a means of our socio-economic transformation, if it fails to mitigate both existing and emerging cyber security threats.”

The occasion also witness the inauguration of the National Cyber-Security Inter-Ministerial Advisory Council.

According to President Akufo-Addo, Government is undertaking specific policy and practical interventions, which includes, capacity building, international co-operation, judicial enforcement of cybercrime legislations, and implementation of technical standards and safeguards to combat the scourge.

As a result of this phenomenon, the President asserted that, in July this year, he asked the Minister for Communications, Hon. Ursula Owusu-Ekuful, to oversee the implementation of Ghana’s National Cyber Security Policy & Strategy (NCSPS).

“This has led to our adoption of a multi-stakeholder approach, as a foundation for the effective implementation of the various cyber security activities and programmes. The National Cyber Security Technical Working Group (NCSTWG) and the National Cyber Security Inter-Ministerial Advisory Council (NCSIAC) would be the critical drivers of our effort,” he said.

In demonstrating international co-operation towards addressing the challenges of cyber security, President Akufo-Addo said he signed the African Union Convention on Cyber Security and Personal Data Protection at the 29th AU Summit in Addis Ababa in July this year.

President Akufo-Addo indicated that Government, with the approval of Cabinet and subsequently parliamentary approval, would access the Budapest Convention by the end of the year.

The President added that government had partnered with the United States government, through the Security Governance Initiative (SGI), and the European Union, through their GLACY project, to support the country’s efforts at addressing cyber security challenges.

“We will also engage with international institutions and technology partners, such as International Telecommunication Union (ITU), the Commonwealth Telecommunications Organisation (CTO), Google, Facebook and Microsoft, to ensure cyber safety for our citizens, especially children,” he added.

Criminal justice response to cybercrime is another area of importance, President Akufo-Addo noted, and to this end, “training for our judges, prosecutors and investigators, especially on cybercrime legislations and enforcement provisions, is a priority for government.”

He assured that government would enforce existing legislation, as it worked to review and update it, if necessary, and empower the Data Protection Commission to ensure enforcement of the provisions of the Data Protection Act, 2012 (Act 843).

“We also intend to improve the forensic capabilities of the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) and other law enforcement agencies, including the Economic & Organized Crimes Office (EOCO), to enable officers to investigate and prosecute cyber-facilitated crimes,” the President added.

He continued, “to improve our cyber security emergency response readiness, government, through the Ministry of Communications, is currently working on the establishment of a dedicated Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT) to protect critical national information infrastructures and sectorial CERTs for the various sectors of the economy, based on international standards and benchmarks.”

Above all, President Akufo-Addo noted that “we have to promote a cyber-security culture among our people. In our everyday lives, we would not leave the doors to our homes or cars open, nor would we advertise to the public where we leave our prized possessions, we would never dream of exposing our children to known criminals but in the virtual world, we take these chances daily.”

These initiatives, the President noted, require financial commitment, and assured that Government would find the money to implement them. “I have requested the Minister for Communications to engage with the Minister for Finance to ensure cyber security is captured in the 2018 budget,” he added.

The Communications Minister Ursula Owusu Ekuful, said the weeklong event dubbed “Securing Ghana’s Cyber Journey” was one of the many strategies that her ministry was adopting to engage relevant stakeholders.

The Minister said Cyber security operations  was an area where Ghana could not go alone but a multi stakeholder approach was vital, adding, “ we need to corporate effectively to ensure our collective protection.”

She said the stakeholder engagement was not only significant to government but also for the entire information technology eco-system of Ghana.

The National Cyber Security Adviser, Albert Antwi Bosiako, lamented on Ghana’s cyber security readiness, which he said, was 35 per cent according to a research conducted by international Telecommunications Union.

Mr. Bosiako deplored Ghana’s plight which needed urgent policy intervention, hence, the stakeholder engagement and a series of policy and strategies to remedy the situation.

Source: ISD (Rex Mainoo Yeboah)