The Ministry of Communications has launched the National Information Technology Agency (NITA) Security Operations Centre (SOC), to help improve effective operational response to cybersecurity incidents affecting Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) in the country.
The SOC is a command centre of highly skilled and talented ethical hackers and security analysts operating with defined processes and supported by integrated security intelligence technologies.
The SOC will offer services, including network monitoring which will ensure that government networks are monitored consistently in real time and will contribute to the identification of patterns and prioritisation of problems for optimised resource and threat management.
The state-of-the-art SOC facility will continuously monitor and improve the security posture across government digital platforms for safe and effective service delivery by proactively preventing, detecting, analysing and responding to cybersecurity incidents.
Speaking at the launch on Friday, October 23, 2020, the sector Minister, Mrs Ursula Owusu-Ekuful, explained that the NITA-SOC, would work with the National Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-GH) and the IT teams of the MDAs to ensure that all activities undertaken by MDAs within the digital ecosystem was secured and safeguarded to ensure effective delivery of services by MDAs.
She said with advanced analytical and correlation technology to recognise threats, the SOC would aid in the identification of patterns and prioritisation of problems for optimised resource and threat management.
She explained that the NITA-SOC would not operate in isolation but in collaboration with the entire CERT ecosystem led by the National CERT under the direction of the National Cybersecurity Centre (NCSC).
Mrs Owusu-Ekuful said the government over the years had been working hard to sanitise the country’s digital space, stressing that “the launch of this facility today is to improve operational engagement and efficiency between NITA-CERT and CERT-GH for effective response to cybersecurity incidents affecting MDAs.”
According to her, the NITA-SOC would further improve cybercrime and cybersecurity incident reporting and response, noting that the Ministry last year launched the Cybercrime and Cybersecurity Incident Reporting Points of Contact (PoC) to provide channels for incident reporting by the public.
That, she said, “These initiatives are contributing to the formative development of our national cybersecurity capabilities.”
Mrs Owusu-Ekuful said government had established NITA to be responsible for establishing protocols and procedures for routine and emergency scenarios for coordination of cyber incidents and cybercrime handling for MDAs.
She noted that analysis by the National CERT had identified malware-based attacks as a major proportion of all cybersecurity incidents reported by MDA’s.
She said “as we continue to digitalise, we need to take our cyber security seriously,” pointing out that the Ministry had established the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) to coordinate cybersecurity incidents both in government and with the private sector.
For his part, the National Cybersecurity Advisor, Dr. Albert Antwi-Boasiako said the establishment of a SOC at the NITA marked another milestone of government’s strategic intervention to scale up the country’s cybersecurity readiness.
He said the various interventions that the government was making in the country’s cyber space were “critical elements for the effective operationalisation of the cybercrime and cybersecurity incident reporting points of contact.”
“Between January and August of this year alone, more than 5,000 residents made contact with the NCSC, through the National CERT, for guidance and advice in addressing cybersecurity issues of which most of them involved online fraud,” he explained.
The Director-General of the NITA, Mr. Richard Okyere, said NITA’s mandates was mainly to regulate the provision of Information Communications Technology (ICT), ensure the provision of quality information communications technology, promote standards of efficiency and ensure high quality of service.
He said “the quest to ensure the provision of quality information communication technology and promoting standards of efficiency and high-quality service cannot be achieved without making sure that there is some high level of assurance of operating in a safe and secured cyber space.”
He noted that the establishment of the SOC would specifically focus on cyber threats, monitoring, forensic investigations, incident management, reporting, escalation and close with proper justification and root cause of events and incidents, hence enhancing the country’s ICT architecture.