Boko Haram: Nigerian Army’s War Against Terror Reaches Cyberspace

 

Boko Haram: Nigerian Army’s War Against Terror Reaches Cyberspace

Buratai launches command, harps on data protection 
•Targets fake news, online radicalisation 
•Sets up app for direct public complaints, information sharing

c with the core goals of strengthening the counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency operations through elimination of cyber attacks and terrorist’s activities in the cyberspace.

This was disclosed on Monday by the Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lt-Gen. Tukur Buratai, while commissioning the cyber operations centre of the Cyber Warfare Command, located at the Army Headquarters Nigerian Army in Abuja

According to Buratai, the Command is principally to empower the Nigerian Army with the capabilities to protect its data and network against cyber attacks and hostile elements. He noted that cyber-warfare was “the fifth domain of warfare after land, sea, air and space.”

He stressed on the need to embark on data protection and information warfare to curb online radicalization by Boko Haram terrorists and similar groups whose online/cyber activities, necessitated the establishment of the centre.

The Army Chief, explained that 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.”

Against this backdrop, Buratai charged the Command operators to equip themselves with digital forensics capabilities and be able to handle cases of identity theft and generate immediate incidence response.

The COAS emphasised that the creation of the centre was in line with his vision for the Nigerian Army, which, he noted, was to have professional, responsive Nigerian Army in the discharge of its constitutional roles.

He said: “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.

“This is done in order to degrade debates with diverging truths, deceive, distract and misinform public opinion.

“This 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. ”

“Hostile actors in cyberspace are also willing and capable of leveraging the variety of tools allowed by computer network operations and computational propaganda to influence public opinion to a degree that old-fashioned psychology operations could only dream of.

“The above statement accurately demonstrates the real threat of information warfare and the need to combat it with use of information knowledge.

“I encourage you to routinely survey the dark web/darknet and carry out analysis that may help the NA to be proactive in the cyber realm,” he added.

Speaking further, Buratai explained why he directed the setting up of complaints centre, noting that “In recent times, the military has been inundated with several complaints regarding claims bothering on the unprofessional conducts of some of our personnel in the field”.

According to him, the Army has taken it upon itself to create an avenue for the public to submit complains and information directly to the appropriate authority without third party interference.

He stated: “The said avenue being an application that will allow users to relay information anonymously to the Nigerian Army. It enables citizens to give timely information to the Army thereby facilitating quick response.

“Crimes against the constitution perpetrated by serving personnel can be directly reported to the Army while keeping the person involved abreast with actions taken as regards a submitted complain.”

He added that the “link to the application will be publicly available on the Nigerian Army Facebook page.”

“ While the application can be assessed through our 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 Nigerian Army in authenticating submitted reports.

“Let me remind us all that these actions are aimed at bolstering interactions with the citizens of Nigeria while making the activities of the Army readily available to them.’’

He commended the staff of the command “for setting up the centre within a record timing.”

Buratai said given that the location was only temporary, he had approved the immediate construction of the command’s permanent office complex and accommodation at Nigerian Army Cantonment, Giri.

“Hence, there is still more work ahead. I hereby charge the Command to endeavour to collaborate with other agencies in the protection of the Nigerian Cyber Space.

‘’Focus your attention on protection of Nigerian Army data space, critical facilities and the prevention of cyber terrorism.

“I hereby urge the staff of the Command to perform their task with optimum dedication to ensure that our vision for the command and the Nigerian Army at large is attained,” he urged.

Full statement:

REMARKS BY THE COAS ON THE COMMISSIONING OF CYBER OPERATIONS CENTRE OF NACWC ON  OCTOBER 15, 2018

1. Principal Staff Officers, Officers, Soldiers, members of the Press, Distinguished invited guests, I am delighted today for the occasion of commissioning of the Cyber operations Center of the Nigerian Army Cyber Warfare Command. As you are all aware, Cyber-warfare is the fifth domain of warfare after Land, Sea, Air and Space. Therefore, this project would not have come. The need to embark on NA data protection and Information Warfare to curb online radicalization as well as other terrorist activities perpetrated on the internet.

2. 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. This is done in order to degrade debates with diverging truths, deceive, distract and misinform public opinion. This 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.

3. Hostile actors in cyberspace are also willing and capable of leveraging the variety of tools allowed by computer network operations and computational propaganda to influence public opinion to a degree that old-fashioned Psychology Operations could only dream of. The above statement accurately demonstrates the real threat of information warfare and the need to combat it with use of information knowledge.

4. In view of the aforementioned, and in line with my vision for the NA which is to have 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. Furthermore, I encourage you to routinely survey the dark web/darknet and carry out analysis that may help the NA to be proactive in the cyber realm.

5. In recent times, the military has been inundated with several complaints regarding claims bothering on the unprofessional conducts of some of our personnel in the field. Consequently, the Army has taken it upon itself to create an avenue for the public to submit complains and information directly to the appropriate authority without third party interference. The said avenue being an application that will allow users to relay information anonymously to the Nigerian Army. It enables citizens to give timely information to the Army thereby facilitating quick response. Additionally, crimes against the constitution perpetrated by serving personnel can be directly reported to the Army while keeping the person involved abreast with actions taken as regards a submitted complain. The link to the application will be publicly available on the Nigerian Army Facebook page. While the application can be assessed through our 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. At this juncture, let me remind us all that these actions are aimed at bolstering interactions with the citizens of Nigeria while making the activities of the Army readily available to them.

6. At this juncture, I commend the staff of the command for setting up the Centre within a record timing. However, bear in mind that this location is only temporary as I have approved the immediate construction of your permanent office complex and accommodation at Nigerian Army Cantonment in Giri. Hence, there is still more work ahead. I hereby charge the Command to endeavour 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. Finally, I hereby urge the staff of the Command to perform their task with optimum dedication to ensure that our vision for the Command and the Nigerian Army at large is attained. God bless us all. Good luck.

 

Background

Buratai had in August, 2018, approved the establishment of the Nigerian Army Cyber Warfare Command, which is in line with the directives of President Muhammadu Buhari to the Security Chiefs’ to step up their game in the war against terror and other security threats across Nigeria.

He had noted that the highly technical Command would be initially composed of 150 Information and Communication Technology (ICT) experts, specially trained officers and men drawn from all the Corps and Services in the Nigerian Army.

The Command was charged with the responsibility to monitor, defend and attack subversive elements in the cyberspace

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