Nigeria Government to build Security Operations Centre (SOC) in 2024
The National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) has unveiled plans for a collaborative endeavor with the Chartered Institute of Forensic and Certified Fraud Investigator of Nigeria (CIFCFIN) to establish a cutting-edge cybersecurity laboratory in the upcoming year. The announcement was made by Mr. Kashifu Inuwa, the Director General of Nigeria NITDA, during a meeting with Dr. Iliyasu Gashinbak, President of CIFCFIN, and his team at the NITDA headquarters.
Mr. Inuwa emphasized the significance of this collaboration as a means to drive forward the realm of digital forensics, invigorate the technological ecosystem, and effectively combat the rising tide of cybercrimes within the digital realm. He elaborated that the rise in cybercrime perpetrators’ sophisticated tactics, fortified by substantial investments in research, advanced information technology, and potent tools, necessitates a proactive and uncompromising stance in countering their activities.
Recognizing the evolving landscape of cyber threats, the proposed cybersecurity laboratory seeks to become a dynamic hub for research, innovation, and the development of robust countermeasures against cybercrimes. By bringing together the expertise of NITDA and CIFCFIN, this collaborative effort aims to bolster the nation’s cyber resilience, enhance digital investigative capabilities, and equip professionals with the tools required to safeguard digital spaces.
This strategic initiative aligns with NITDA’s commitment to fostering a secure digital environment while nurturing the growth and sustainability of Nigeria’s technological landscape. As technology becomes increasingly intertwined with various aspects of modern life, the establishment of a cybersecurity laboratory is poised to play a pivotal role in upholding the nation’s digital sovereignty and ensuring the safety of individuals, organizations, and critical digital infrastructure. Through proactive collaborations and innovative approaches, Nigeria is positioning itself to navigate the complexities of the digital age with confidence and resilience.
Investment in cybersecurity lab
While acknowledging the agency’s significant investments in various technological domains, Mr. Inuwa highlighted a noticeable gap in their efforts in the realm of cybersecurity. He stated, “We have directed our investments towards technologies such as the Digital Fabrication Lab (FABLAB 1.0) and other labs across the nation, but we have yet to establish a dedicated Cybersecurity Laboratory.”
He further revealed that a potential location has been identified for the Cybersecurity Laboratory, and the agency is eager to engage relevant stakeholders to accelerate the design and implementation of this center. This collaborative approach is intended to ensure that the facility’s development progresses efficiently, leveraging the expertise of diverse partners.
Mr. Inuwa emphasized that the Nigeria NITDA’s investment in this initiative is set to commence next year. He clarified that while the facility will encompass aspects of forensics, it will also prominently integrate cybersecurity into its identity to comprehensively address diverse areas of significance.
Highlighting the dire impact of cybercrime on the nation’s economy, organizations, and individuals, Mr. Inuwa underscored the pressing need to enhance the nation’s capacity to shield against cyber threats. He noted that some entities overlook the importance of incorporating robust cybersecurity measures while developing digital services, inadvertently exposing themselves to attacks by cybercriminals.
In addressing this challenge, Mr. Inuwa advocated for a security-first approach in all digital endeavors, emphasizing that prioritizing security during design and digitization is paramount for ensuring safety.
NITDA in Nigeria has been proactive in its efforts to secure cyberspace through initiatives such as raising awareness, capacity building, and enhancing critical infrastructure. However, Mr. Inuwa acknowledged that the agency’s success cannot be achieved in isolation. Collaboration with key stakeholders and international partners remains pivotal to achieving the desired outcomes.
Mr. Inuwa also highlighted the agency’s strides in cybersecurity training programs conducted across various Ministries, Departments, and Agencies (MDAs). He pointed out that thousands of Nigerians have received training through platforms such as the Cisco Academy and Coursera, underscoring Nigeria NITDA’s commitment to building a robust cybersecurity ecosystem within the country.
Meanwhile, CIFCFIN’s President, Gashinbak, has appealed to NITDA for support with computers for the Nigerian College of Forensics and Fraud Investigators (NCFFI), technical assistance to deploy their combined e-portal and e-learning platforms as well as Postgraduate scheme and scholarship programs.
He said the institute would be committed to discharging its duties toward the success of the forged collaboration.
What is a Security Operations Center (SOC)?
A Security Operations Center (SOC), sometimes referred to as an Information Security Operations Center (ISOC), constitutes a dedicated team of IT security experts who undertake the task of vigilantly monitoring an organization’s complete IT infrastructure on a round-the-clock basis. This vigilance is aimed at promptly identifying instances of cybersecurity incidents as they unfold and responding to them in a swift and efficient manner.
Within the realm of an SOC’s responsibilities, the team is involved in the management of an organization’s cybersecurity technologies. This entails the selection, operation, and maintenance of the tools and systems that bolster the organization’s overall security landscape. Furthermore, the SOC continually engages in the analysis of threat data, seeking insights that can lead to enhancements in the organization’s security stance.
The primary advantage of establishing an SOC, whether it’s managed in-house or outsourced, lies in its capacity to unify and streamline an organization’s diverse security tools, protocols, and incident response strategies. This integration typically leads to heightened preventive measures, bolstered security policies, expedited threat detection, and a more swift, efficient, and cost-effective approach to handling security breaches. Additionally, the establishment of an SOC can yield benefits such as augmented customer confidence and the simplification and reinforcement of the organization’s adherence to industry-specific, national, and global privacy regulations.
What an Security Operations Center (SOC) does
SOC activities and responsibilities fall into three general categories. Preparation, planning and prevention
Comprehensive Asset Tracking and Management: An essential facet of the SOC’s operations revolves around maintaining an exhaustive inventory encompassing all elements requiring safeguarding, both within and outside the data center. This entails cataloging applications, databases, servers, cloud services, endpoints, and more, alongside the array of protective tools employed, such as firewalls, antivirus, anti-malware, and anti-ransomware solutions. Asset discovery tools are frequently harnessed to fulfill this responsibility effectively.
Routine Maintenance and Preparedness: Ensuring the efficacy of the existing security measures necessitates proactive measures like the application of software patches and upgrades. Continuous upkeep of firewalls, whitelists, blacklists, security policies, and procedures is also a crucial part of the SOC’s responsibilities. Additionally, the SOC contributes to system resilience by devising and implementing backup strategies, thus fortifying the organization’s ability to ensure business continuity even amidst data breaches or cyberattacks.
Strategizing for Incident Response: At the heart of the SOC’s duties lies the formulation of the organization’s incident response plan. This blueprint outlines the precise actions, roles, and responsibilities to be undertaken during a security incident. Essential metrics for measuring the success of incident responses are also established through meticulous planning.
Rigorous Testing and Improvement: The SOC conducts rigorous assessments to evaluate the vulnerability of resources to potential threats. Vulnerability assessments reveal susceptibilities and their associated costs, while penetration tests simulate targeted attacks. The insights drawn from these evaluations empower the SOC to refine applications, security protocols, best practices, and incident response strategies.
Continuous Vigilance and Monitoring: Operating around the clock, the SOC assumes the responsibility of continuous monitoring over the entire extended IT infrastructure. This encompassing surveillance encompasses applications, servers, system software, computing devices, cloud workloads, and the network. Detecting signs of known exploits and potential suspicious activity forms the cornerstone of the SOC’s NITDA vigilance.
Leveraging Advanced Technologies: Core to the SOC’s monitoring, detection, and response capabilities is the utilization of advanced technologies such as Security Information and Event Management (SIEM). SIEM aggregates and analyzes real-time alerts and telemetry from network hardware and software to unearth potential threats. The advent of Extended Detection and Response (XDR) technology has extended the SOC’s capabilities by furnishing detailed telemetry and automating the process of incident detection and response.
Critical Log Management: Log management, a subset of monitoring, entails the collection and analysis of log data stemming from every network event. By analyzing this data, the SOC establishes a baseline of normal activities and identifies deviations that may indicate malicious activity. While many hackers bank on the assumption that log data isn’t thoroughly examined, the SOC’s role in scrutinizing these logs is pivotal in spotting dormant threats.
Sophisticated Threat Detection: A primary function of the SOC entails distinguishing genuine cyberthreats and hacker exploits from false positives. These signals are then prioritized based on their severity. Modern SIEM solutions, equipped with artificial intelligence, automate these processes and continually refine their effectiveness through data-driven learning.
In sum, the SOC stands as an unwavering guardian, tirelessly watching over an organization’s digital landscape, fine-tuning its defenses, and marshaling sophisticated technologies to detect and counteract potential cyberthreats with agility and precision.
Incident response. In response to a threat or actual incident, the SOC moves to limit the damage. Actions can include:
- Root cause investigation, to determine the technical vulnerabilities that gave hackers access to the system, as well as other factors (such as bad password hygiene or poor enforcement of policies) that contributed to the incident
- Shutting down compromised endpoints or disconnecting them from the network
- Isolating compromised areas of the network or rerouting network traffic
- Pausing or stopping compromised applications or processes
- Deleting damaged or infected files
- Running antivirus or anti-malware software
- Decommissioning passwords for internal and external users.
Many XDR solutions enable SOCs to automate and accelerate these and other incident responses. Recovery, refinement and compliance
Recovery and Remediation: Following the containment of an incident, the SOC proceeds to eliminate the threat, undertaking the task of restoring affected assets to their pre-incident state. This involves a series of actions, including wiping, restoring, and reconnecting disks, end-user devices, and other endpoints. The SOC also orchestrates the restoration of network traffic and the rebooting of applications and processes. In scenarios involving data breaches or ransomware attacks, the recovery process may encompass transitioning to backup systems, resetting passwords, and re-establishing authentication credentials.
Post-Incident Analysis and Refinement: To forestall future occurrences, the SOC leverages insights gleaned from the incident to enhance vulnerability management. This entails updating processes and policies, adopting new cybersecurity tools, or refining the existing incident response plan. On a broader scale, the SOC delves into deciphering whether the incident indicates the emergence of new or evolving cybersecurity trends, Nigeria NITDA subsequently preparing for their potential impact.
Ensuring Compliance: A critical facet of the SOC’s role is guaranteeing conformity with data privacy regulations like GDPR (Global Data Protection Regulation), CCPA (California Consumer Privacy Act), PCI DSS (Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard), and HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) Nigeria NITDA. In the aftermath of an incident, the SOC orchestrates the meticulous execution of regulatory mandates. This involves notifying users, regulators, law enforcement, and other pertinent parties in accordance with stipulated regulations. Furthermore, the SOC takes the onus of retaining requisite incident data for evidentiary and auditing purposes.
Nigeria NITDA In essence, the SOC functions as a multidimensional stronghold, steering an organization through the complexities of cybersecurity incidents. It vigilantly navigates through containment, recovery, and post-incident evaluation, ensuring compliance and adapting strategies to match the ever-evolving threat landscape. By steadfastly safeguarding an organization’s digital infrastructure, the SOC embodies resilience and preparedness in the face of adversity.