HomeData Privacy Law DigestNIMC and Data Security

NIMC and Data Security

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  • The commission must investigate alleged leaks thoroughly before exonerating its processes

The National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) recently got in the eye of the storm when an organisation, Paradigm Initiative, alleged that it has encountered an unauthorised website selling sensitive personal and financial data of some Nigerians for as little as N100. This organisation demonstrated with the purchased data of the Minister of Communications, Innovation, and Digital Economy, Bosun Tijani’s National Identification Number (NIN).

This report, if proven to be accurate,  means a lot not just to the minister but to national security and all Nigerians, home and abroad. It is a brazen breach of the data and privacy laws of the land. This has very dire implications for the whole country’s security architecture. The NIMC quickly issued a rebuttal of the statement but we feel more still needs to be done, given the place of data in a digital world.

Cybercrimes have global security implications and countries, individuals and organisations spend a lot to minimise access to sensitive data, given the value of data to the modern tech-savvy world. The internet and social media are human creations. So, because they are human creations, humans can still breach the processes. Data means a lot and can be used for positive and negative outcomes, depending on intentions.

Very often, the difference between developed countries and the underdeveloped countries is in the systemic functionalities often dependent on the strict use of data. The population of each nation is determined through data collected on births and deaths, the different demographics are determined through the data of each citizen. For democracies, election campaigns are dependent on the data of voting population. In the United States, for example, there are always data on Caucasians, Jews, Blacks, Hispanics, Muslims, Evangelicals, etc., which help the different political parties to plan for campaigns and governance  for the best outcomes in elections.

National security is dependent on data. It is not for nothing that criminals are easier to be tracked down in developed than underdeveloped countries. This is because technology has made it easier to identify each person in a particular space in real time. The success of national security operatives is dependent on the functionality of the data being used. A lot of global Intel is dependent on the use of data technology in a world fast evolving technologically.

The NIMC management was quick to issue what looks like a rebuttal of the security breach complaint of the Paradigm Initiative, alleging that it is some Nigerians who are giving their data to the fake websites. The general public seems unconvinced, given that the organisation provided evidence in their presentation of the data of the data regulator in Nigeria, Dr. Vincent Olatunji, and that of Dr. Tijani.

Even though they continue to insist that the commission’s infrastructure meets the stringent ISO 27001:2013 Information Security Management System Standard, with annual re-certification and strict compliance with the Nigerian Data Protection Law, we advise that the government and its agencies be very alert and never take the security breach issue lightly, as a lot depends on data security. The people’s trust on the security of their data must never be allowed to wane.

Even though NIMC advises Nigerians to avoid giving their data to unauthorised and phishing sites, we know that most global hackings do not often happen due to carelessness of individuals, countries or institutions. The danger of data harvesting and compromises of data is one of the global issues that each nation fights hard to prevent through investment in preventive measures.

Reaffirming its commitment to upholding ethical standards in data protection in line with the Federal Government’s directives and data privacy regulations might not just be enough. The commission must face the realities of a modern world and be alert, and invest in the best technology to protect its data.

Data protection is the heart of modern tech-saturated world. A slip by any of the ancillary agencies can be the difference between life and death of citizens. If the allegation is proved to be true, it then means a lot for the security of a country that has been suffering from lack of correct and functional data management.

The elusive kidnappers, suicide bombers, bandits, unknown gunmen and other social miscreants can only end when Nigeria adopts the global best practices where data functionality keeps every individual accounted for. NIMC must move from defensive mode to more digitally functional mode to save the country from disaster because even foreign investors and other global institutions cannot trust a system with poor data management.

The Nation Editorial

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