As the 2023 general elections draw near, the Chief Executive Officer of New Horizons Nigeria, Mr. Tim Akano, has advised the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to conduct a stress test on Data-in-Motion or in-Transit on Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS), before the February 25th date.
Speaking on a topic themed “understanding privacy and online risk in the digital world today,” to mark this year’s World Data Privacy Day, organized by the Data and Knowledge Privacy Protection Initiative, Mr. Akano said the test will help ascertain that there is stronger security protection for data transmission before the elections.
And February 25, 2023 general election will be the first time in the history of the country that live data will be used to determine who will be the next president of the country.
According to Akano, the inferno that can burn Nigeria as a country is the use of live data that is vulnerable to attack, noting it is in the best interest of INEC in particular, and Nigeria in general, to pay more than casual attention to what we call the man in the middle attack, which hackers can exploit to intercept, modify, or retransmit election data while in motion or in transit.
In his words: “There is nothing more important in Nigeria today than the success of the February election, and we are a country of about 222 million, and nothing must go wrong because entire West African coast, from Benin Republic to Togo to Ghana, does not have the infrastructure to sustain us.”
Citing instances where conflicting results in other countries had led to untold bloodbath, Akano pointed out that between 2007 and 2008, Kenya witnessed an untold bloodbath arising from conflicting election results. “In 2010 and 2011, Mr. Devil himself took over the affairs of Ivory Coast when conflicting election results were announced. In 2016, Russia was alleged to have influenced the American presidential elections through technology, and in the recent Osun governorship Tribunal judgment, three types of BVAS results on the same election were alleged to have been tendered and this should not because Maths is exact, absolute.”
The 2022 Securonix Threat Report, reveals that insiders were involved in 57% of data breaches, and there are new technological solutions to this if INEC cares to prevent that.
While commending INEC for the end-to-end encryption they had done for the technology, Mr. Akano however drew the attention of the INEC Chairman on the need to urgently talk to some Nigerian Cyber security practitioners and appoint some “devil’s advocate who will conduct a stress test on BVAS DIM (Data- in- Motion) before the wholesale adoption on February 25th”, saying it is common practice for big companies such as Microsoft and Oracle to carry out test on newly developed software by calling on strong hackers to test it and see if they can hack into it easily; and if they can, then they go back to their lab to ensure they work on it.
Akano, going forward, advised INEC to carry out an upgrade after the election to ensure that the issue of over-voting does not arise from BVAS by building in a technology that uses artificial intelligence (AI) which will alert the system when over-voting arises from any polling unit.