The Nigerian Army has launched a cyber warfare command to protect data space and prevent cyber terrorism. The chief of army staff (COAS), Lt-Gen. Tukur Buratai, while commissioning the command, stated that cyber warfare was the fifth domain of warfare after land, sea, air and space, describing it as the most dangerous aspect of warfare. The COAS said due to the nature of cyber warfare, the Nigeria Army saw the need to embark on data protection and information warfare to curb online radicalisation as well as other terrorist activities perpetrated on the internet. “The intrinsic features of cyberspace can be easily exploited for information warfare by actors with malicious intent to plant and disseminate fake news and instruct paid users to spread online manipulated content,” he said.
Buratai urged the command to collaborate with other agencies in the protection of the Nigerian cyber space. “Focus your attention on protection of NA data space, critical facilities and the prevention of cyber terrorism,” he said. According to him, hostile actors in cyberspace are leveraging on the variety of tools allowed by computer network operations and computational propaganda to influence public opinion.
Such actions, he said, demonstrates the real threat of information warfare and the need to combat it with the use of information knowledge. He further remarked that the motive of cyber terrorists was to degrade debates with diverging truths, deceive, distract and misinform public opinion, adding that such can eventually disorient and corroborate a sense of doubt among the public, or shape the opinion of a specific target audience on a certain issue.
“In view of the aforementioned, and in line with my vision for the NA which is to have a professional, responsive Nigerian Army in the discharge of its constitutional roles, the NA decided to establish the Nigerian Army Cyber Warfare Command to empower the NA with the capabilities to protect our data/network against cyber attacks and hostile elements. “The Cyber Operations Centre would also enable robust online presence so as to fight fake news targeted at the army with counter narratives and cyber operations. Therefore, you must equip yourselves with digital forensics capabilities and be able to handle cases of identity theft and generate immediate incidence response,” he said. The COAS further urged the command to routinely survey the dark web/darknet and carry out analyses that could help the NA to be proactive in the cyber realm. He recalled that in recent times, the military has been inundated with several complaints regarding claims of unprofessional conduct of some of its personnel in the field.
“Consequently, the Army has taken it upon itself to create an avenue for the public to submit complaints and information directly to the appropriate authorities without third party interference,” he said.
He explained that the said avenue was an application that would allow users to relay information anonymously and directly to the Nigerian Army, which will enable citizens to give timely information to the Army, thereby facilitating quick response.
He reiterated that crimes of misconduct perpetrated by serving personnel could be directly reported to the Army while keeping the person involved abreast of actions taken as regards a submitted complaint.
He averred that the link to the application would be publicly available on the Nigerian Army Facebook page, adding that the application can also be assessed through the NA website and on apps freely available on various app stores. “Users can submit a report as well as attach uploads that will aid the authority in carrying out necessary actions. Although, submitting images or videos is not compulsory, it will however aid the NA in authenticating submitted reports,” he said. Buratai explained that the features were aimed at bolstering interactions with the citizens of Nigeria, while making the activities of the Army readily available to them. Speaking earlier, the commander, Nigerian Army Warfare Command, Brig-Gen. Thomas O. Unokhua, said the command would use available resources to achieve the vision behind its establishment.
He commended the COAS for ensuring the establishment of the command, stating it is the first of its kind in Africa.
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