Isa Pantami reveals how Nigeria prevented over 12.9 million cyberattacks during the Presidential elections

Adeniyi Odukoya
The Committee’s activity started on 24th February 2023 and ended on 28th February 2023. During this period, a series of hacking attempts were recorded
Isa Pantami reveals how Nigeria prevented over 12 million cyberattacks during the Presidential elections

The Nigerian Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Isa Pantami, has hailed government agencies for preventing a total of 12,988,978 cyberattacks originating within and outside Nigeria during the recently concluded presidential election.

On Tuesday, Professor Isa Pantami revealed that over 6.9 million attacks were recorded on election day alone. Since then, over 12.9 million cyberattacks have been recorded.

The minister reported that the attacks were conveniently fended off because of the sophisticated infrastructure jointly put together by different government agencies saddled with the responsibility to protect the country’s cyberspace.

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Patami commended the prompt contribution from the President of the Federation, Muhammadu Buhari, who had ensured there was an enabling space for government agencies to execute their tasks as and when due.

Isa Pantami reveals how Nigeria prevented over 12 million cyberattacks during the Presidential elections
Voters at the 2023 presidential elections source: Bloomberg

The minister disclosed that threat intelligence had predicted a rise in threats to Nigerian cyberspace in anticipation of the elections. So, the ministry, in conjunction with relevant government parastatals, including the National Information Technology (NITDA)’s Computer Emergency Readiness and Response Team (CERRT), the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC)’s Computer Security Incident Response Team (CSIRT) enabled measures to prevent the attacks.

“These Centers were established between 2020 and 2022 in line with the Honourable Minister’s policy directives and have been monitoring Nigerian cyberspace for potential threats and taking appropriate actions to mitigate them, both individually and collectively as well as in collaboration with other stakeholders.

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How Nigeria dealt with the cyberattacks

Ahead of the general elections, Pantami inaugurated the Ministerial Standing Committee on Advisory Role for the Protection of Nigerian Cyberspace and ICT Infrastructure on the 24th of February, 2023. He then charged all the parastatals to enhance their 24/7 monitoring of the networks and traffic for potential attacks from 24th February 2023 to 27th February 2023.

“As part of its mandate, the Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy is expected to ensure adequate protection of Nigeria’s cyberspace so that citizens will have confidence in digital services. This mandate aligns with the goals and objectives of the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy for a Digital Nigeria (NDEPS). a statement read.

The committee, chaired by the Board Chairman of NCC, included the CEOs of NCC, NITDA and GBB as members. The roles of the committee included;

  • Monitor telecommunication Infrastructure for the successful conduct of credible, free, fair, and transparent elections;
  • Develop and implement plans to enhance the resilience of critical digital infrastructure against cyber threats;
  • Design procedures and use technologies to prevent, detect, and respond to cyber attacks, as well as develop the ability to recover from any damage that is done quickly.
  • Develop a comprehensive risk assessment,
  • Analyse the nation’s current cybersecurity capabilities,
  • Identify gaps that need to be addressed while providing professional advice to the government on effectively utilising digital technologies in the 2023 general elections.

According to a statement by Isa Pantami’s media aide, Uwa Suleiman, “A total of 12,988,978 attacks were recorded, originating from both within and outside Nigeria. It is worth noting that the Centers successfully blocked these attacks and/or escalated them to the relevant institutions for appropriate action.”

“The Committee’s activity started on 24th February 2023 and ended on 28th February 2023. During this period, a series of hacking attempts were recorded, including Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS), email and IPS attacks, SSH Login Attempts, Brute force Injection attempts, Path Traversal, Detection Evasion, and Forceful Browsing.

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The parastatals, under the supervision of the Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy, have played a crucial role in providing the enabling environment for the successful conduct of a credible, free, fair, and transparent election.”

Though the attacks in Nigeria’s cyberspace were successfully blocked due to the available, functional governmental agencies, many Nigerians hope going forward that the same effort exerted to keep Nigeria’s cyberspace safe can be made to ensure physical spaces for the election stay bereft of fraudulent and violent attacks from thugs and miscreants.


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