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Government to strengthen Ghana’s cyber security

In her speech at the launch of the National Cyber Security Awareness Month (NCSAM) 2021, Mrs Ursula Owusu-Ekuful the Minister for Communications and Digitalisation, has re-iterated government’s continual support to activities geared towards strengthening Ghana’s cyber security framework.

“The Government as a cybersecurity enabler, will continue to make the necessary efforts, including relevant budgetary allocations to support our national cybersecurity development activities,” she said.

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The Minister gave this assurance on Friday at the official launch of NCSAM 2021, Cyber Security Authority (CSA) and the Critical Information Infrastructure (CII) Directive.

The theme for the year’s National Cyber Security Awareness Month is “Ghana’s Cybersecurity Act 2020: Its Implications and the Role of Stakeholders.”

Mrs Owusu-Ekuful said statistics from the World Economic Forum’s Global Risks Report 2020 stated that cybercrime damages might reach US$6 trillion— an amount that would be equivalent to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the world’s third-largest economy.

She said it was, therefore, imperative that Ghana takes adequate steps towards safeguarding its cyber ecosystem and urged stakeholders to play their part to ensure achievement of the goal.

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According to the World Economic Forum, cyber attacks against CIIs rated the fifth top risk in 2020.

Mrs Owusu-Ekuful said Ghana happens to be part of the few African countries formalising the protection of CIIs— a step that would protect the country’s assets in digitalisation developments and ensure it reaped the full digital dividends associated with digital transformation.

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The Minister made mention of the fact that, Ghana embarking on this new journey did not imply the nation’s immunity to cyber-attacks and that the nation was more prone to cyber-attacks more now as it has expanded the various digital channels and platforms – both in the public and the private sectors.

Mr Matthew Opoku Prempeh, Minister of Energy, said due to the increasing threats constantly lurking in cyber space, personnel of the Energy Ministry have been given training to better understand the subject.

The Minister said cyber security was a cross-sector issue, which required interdisciplinary collaborations to make it more effective.

Dr Albert Antwi-Boasiako the National Cybersecurity Advisor, said in October 2017, Ghana had adopted a multi-sectoral governance structure for its national cybersecurity, leading to the establishment of the National Cyber Security Inter-Ministerial Advisory Council and the National Cyber Security Technical Working Group (NCSTWG).

That architecture, he said, had been replicated in other sectors of the country and continued to serve as a national cyber security governance benchmark for a number of African countries, more than five of which had requested for direct assistance from Ghana to implement similar structures.

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Mr Antwi-Boasiako said Ghana also embarked on a journey for the protection of Children on the Internet through collaboration with UNICEF in 2019 and in that year alone, the initiative sensitised more than 40,000 students across the 16 regions of the country.

“This model of awareness creation has been hailed globally, serving as a model for other countries. The ECOWAS Commission has requested Ghana to lead cybersecurity development in the sub-region and in 2018, at the sponsorship of the World Bank, more than 50 representatives from all the ECOWAS countries visited Ghana to learn from our experiences,” he said.

He said with the passage of the Cybersecurity Act, the country had further demonstrated a forward-thinking leadership on cybersecurity matters, as Ghana was now Africa’s first to respond to cybersecurity challenges through regulations.

Dr Maxwell Opoku-Afari, First Deputy Governor, Bank of Ghana, said analysts had predicted that the next financial shock or shock to the global economy could manifest itself in the form of a cyber-attack, as such, the country needed to brainstorm on how to secure and protect its infrastructures.

He said successful cyber-attacks on computer systems and networks supporting critical national assets and infrastructure could cause significant havoc to citizens’ way of life, cause financial loss, undermine public confidence, and cause major disruption to the economy.

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Dr Opoku-Afari said Ghana’s inability to put policies in place to protect the infrastructure of banks from attacks could result in the destruction of the very foundation of growth with national security implications.

He said globally, cyber-attacks on digitised payment products were increasingly becoming sophisticated, especially on financial institutions with insecure IT systems.

“We have witnessed global cyber-attacks, which resulted in disruptions to some critical financial services and destroyed financial assets and savings. It is important, therefore, to ensure that the security of electronic banking products and services are not compromised,” he said.

Madam Stephanie S. Sullivan, the United States of America Ambassador to Ghana, lauded Government for its continued efforts in creating a secure cyber ecosystem through security governance initiative and for passing the cybersecurity act of 2020.

She said the United States would continue to support Ghana to fight cyber crimes.

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