By Funmilola Gboteku
Lagos, Sept. 10, 2020 The UK government on Thursday, said it had signed an agreement to support SMEs and vulnerable groups with requisite skills in Nigeria.
The British Deputy High Commission in Lagos made the disclosure in a statement.
It said that the UK Government, through its Prosperity Fund Digital Access Programme, had signed a grant agreement with CyberSafe Foundation to carry out the “Safe Digital Community during COVID-19 Project” as part of its cyber risk mitigation support to Nigeria’s COVID-19 response.
The commission said the grant agreement was signed between the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) and CyberSafe Foundation on Sept. 7.
It said the agreement would equip digitally vulnerable groups and SMEs with the knowledge and skills required to identify, protect, detect, defend and respond to cyber threats, as the world shifted to more online working and service delivery.
“The project was necessitated, following the UK’s National Cybersecurity Centre (UK NCSC), U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Certified Information System Auditors (CISA) joint advisory in the rising number of cyber-attacks across the globe.
“The advisory found that malicious cyber actors are exploiting the COVID-19 pandemic; targeting SMEs and essential services including healthcare organisations with scam and phishing emails.
“Cybercriminals also target individuals with COVID-19 themed attacks, including relief package scams and impersonation of trusted organisations, resulting in the theft of confidential information and money from victims, “it said.
According to the commission, the safe digital community project which has already kicked off across Nigeria, will directly benefit at least 1,500 SMEs and upskill nearly 4,500 employees in cyber safety essentials.
It said for the digitally vulnerable groups including people with limited digital experience, the project would help raise their awareness on safe cyber hygiene and enhance their online security.
In his remarks the British Deputy High Commissioner in Lagos, Ben Llewellyn-Jones said: “The COVID19 pandemic has forced both individuals and businesses to adapt to using more digital and online ways of working.
” This development also comes with an increased risk of cyber threats. So keeping the digital community safe has become even more essential.
“We are excited about this project and the impact it will have in keeping Nigerians and Nigerian SMEs safe online,”he said.
“The UK Government stood with Nigeria and would continue to support Nigeria as we collectively deal with this pandemic,” Llewellyn-Jones said.
In the same vein, Idongesit Udoh, Head of the UK Government’s Digital Access Programme and Country Lead, said:“This project is designed to achieve two key outcomes; the first is to equip SMEs with knowledge and skills required to identify, protect, detect, and respond to COVID-19 instigated cyber threats.
Udoh said that the second was to increase cyber security awareness for the mass population, with special focus on digitally vulnerable groups and people with limited digital experience.
“This cybersecurity project is one of the key COVID-19 response projects demonstrating the UK government’s continued support for Nigeria and its digital sector, recognising the tech ecosystem’s role in inclusive growth and development.
“It is also exciting that this grant agreement coincides with the 2020 London Tech Week, which showcases the UK as a global leader in tech, “Udoh said.
Also Confidence Staveley, Executive Director and Founder of CyberSafe Foundation lauded the project
“I am very excited about this project that is arguably one of Nigeria’s biggest Cyber security education interventions.
He said it was designed to support businesses and most individuals digitally vulnerable to cyber-attacks.
Staveley said that unlike big businesses, many SMEs in Nigeria lacked the people, processes and technology required to defend themselves against cyber-attacks.
He said that such SMEs were consequently the worst prepared and worst hit by cyber-attacks
“This project will support at least 1,500 SMEs with free cybersecurity training of their people and also educate over 10 million Nigerians on Safe Cyber hygiene best practices in a novel and impactful way.
“This is a timely and much needed intervention given the increased digital penetration and adverse cyber-crime activity in Nigeria,” Staveley said.