Cybersecurity Capability Constructing with Human Capital in Sub-Saharan Africa

In 2020, the United Nations estimated the whole inhabitants of Africa at 1.3 billion, with 60 % of the inhabitants below the age of 24. On the similar time, the inhabitants continues to embrace, in ever-increasing numbers, the usage of the Web and different net applied sciences. With this development in international locations that usually lack the required infrastructure and experience comes the inevitable improve in cybersecurity incidents and information breaches. As authorities leaders work to create a secure and in depth expertise infrastructure, they need to additionally work to supply alternatives for important coaching and expertise acquisition for present and future African authorities workers, professionals, and college students. The mere existence of quick Web and overseas investments just isn’t enough. As an alternative the main target is on the creation of expert cybersecurity human capital that can work with current applied sciences and develop new innovation to unravel real-life threats distinctive to the African continent. This weblog submit, which is customized and excerpted from a just lately printed paper that I coauthored with Michelle Ramin, explores points surrounding cybersecurity capability constructing with human capital in Africa.

What Is Capability Constructing of Human Capital?

Capability constructing of human capital is outlined because the strategic growth of training, coaching, and mentoring of cybersecurity personnel. It’s a continuous studying course of during which cybersecurity personnel conduct workouts in real-life situations and have interaction in data switch, proficiency enchancment, functionality growth, and expertise constructing throughout ranges of complexity.

This definition emphasizes the position of stakeholders, together with authorities, non-public sector, educational establishments, colleges, and people. Capability constructing of human capital is thus a crucial part of cybersecurity capability constructing. “Human capital” refers back to the human assets, their understanding, data, expertise, and capabilities to carry out. Determine 1 depicts the connection among the many varied elements famous above.


Cybersecurity Capability Constructing in Africa and U.S. Authorities Partnership

Efforts on behalf of the USA to increase capability constructing in Africa have been ongoing. Many African international locations lack monetary assets, Web infrastructure, and homegrown cybersecurity experience. In 2014, 54 African international locations making up the African Union (AU) adopted the Conference on Cyber Safety and Private Information Safety (also referred to as the Malabo Conference) with the goal of securing digital transactions, defending private information, and deterring cybersecurity and cybercrime.

As time progressed, solely a handful of nations endorsed the Malabo Conference and adopted a proper coverage, leading to a weak alliance and implementation. Many international locations seemed to be working independently and thus had been sluggish to undertake and cling to a regional cybersecurity technique. Actually, below the steerage of the U.S. Division of State’s Workplace of the Coordinator for Cyber Points, in Africa eight international locations have created nationwide cybersecurity methods, and 13 international locations have organized nationwide laptop emergency response groups.

Such a cybersecurity digital divide has a far-reaching impact on the area’s financial productiveness, in addition to the power of state governments and native enterprise organizations to rent native cybersecurity human capital. The AU has lengthy advocated for the collaboration and sharing of secure expertise and Web infrastructures amongst members due to the excessive price of funding. Adopting such an strategy, nevertheless, requires establishing belief amongst AU members as a part of long-term collaborative efforts.

In the USA, a number of consortia allow useful resource sharing. For instance, the Division of Homeland Safety (DHS) Cybersecurity Data Sharing and Collaboration Program (CISCP) permits the alternate of unclassified actionable, related, and well timed data amongst stakeholders via trusted private and non-private partnerships throughout crucial infrastructure (CI) sectors. The CISCP program helps stakeholders handle cyber dangers via analyst-to-analyst sharing of utilized risk and vulnerability data, comparable to indicator bulletins, evaluation stories, joint-analysis stories, malware-findings stories, malware-analysis stories, and joint-indicator bulletins. This data shared amongst CISCP stakeholders is ruled utilizing the Site visitors Gentle Protocol (TLP), permitting the submitter to regulate the dealing with, classification, and sharing/dissemination of their data.

One other US-based cyber data sharing mannequin is the Data Sharing and Evaluation Middle (ISAC) mannequin. The ISAC is predicated on a hub-and-spoke structure, the place the central hub receives data from collaborating members (the spokes). On this structure the hub can both redistribute the knowledge acquired to its members or present value-added providers, augmenting the information in an effort to make it extra helpful and related to members.

To implement information-sharing mechanisms, many African nations are following these U.S. requirements. Furthermore, the State Division is stepping up its efforts to encourage and promote a holistic government-to-government strategy to increase the cybersecurity capability constructing within the area. As famous earlier, the cyber expertise hole can be relevant to present workers. As a rule, the query {that a} safety analyst could have is, “Now that I’ve these instruments, what do I do with them?”

Enhancing cybersecurity capability constructing enhances the power of nationwide governments to create CSIRTs to grasp and reply to real-time cyber threats via data sharing, incident response coordination, and mitigation collaboration. The Cybersecurity Infrastructure Safety Company defines a CSIRT as

a concrete organizational entity (i.e., a number of employees) that’s assigned the accountability for coordinating and supporting the response to a pc safety occasion or incident. CSIRTs might be created for nation states or economies, governments, industrial organizations, academic establishments, and even non-profit entities. The purpose of a CSIRT is to reduce and management the harm ensuing from incidents, present efficient steerage for response and restoration actions, and work to stop future incidents from taking place

As I wrote in my 2017 submit, nationwide CSIRTs have taken a outstanding position as factors of contact within the coordination and response to nationwide, regional, and worldwide computer-security incidents. Earlier and present administrations have set forth cybersecurity insurance policies that allow the USA to pursue worldwide cooperation in sustaining a globally safe and resilient Web with associate and ally nations. In 2014 the SEI CERT Division and the U.S. Division of State Workplace of the Coordinator for Cyber Points (S/CCI), in coordination with the Division of Homeland Safety Workplace of Worldwide Affairs, started creating and implementing international cybersecurity capacity-building actions that help functionality and capability constructing for national-level CSIRTs.

To find out the capability during which a CSIRT operates, the SEI has developed the CSIRT Improvement Capability Continuum. The continuum illustrates a CSIRT’s capabilities on a scale from 0 (a nascent CSIRT) to five (the place the CSIRT is described as being on the “vanguard and modern”). To categorise a CSIRT inside this continuum, a collection of interviews are performed with the nationwide CSIRTs of the partnering nations. These interviews are inside the scope of the SEI Nationwide CSIRT Improvement Mentoring Framework, which is utilized in 4 linear phases, as proven in Determine 2 and described under.


Section 1: Data Discovery. This part helps the mentor crew perceive the group requiring mentoring and decide the feasibility for offering help. The knowledge gathered right here is the inspiration for all the opposite elements on which the framework is constructed. The primary actions on this part embody the next:

  • Establish the help that the CSIRT wishes.
  • Submit an information-gathering survey to the CSIRT for completion.
  • Carry out a public-source literature overview.
  • Acquire perception concerning the CSIRT from submit (the U.S. embassy within the nation).
  • Acquire perception from associate CSIRTs.
  • Interview CSIRT members and constituents.
  • Conduct an onsite go to with the CSIRT.
  • Acquire insights from authorities or business stakeholders within the nation.
  • Establish earlier coaching or mentoring acquired by the CSIRT.
  • Carry out a nationwide CSIRT evaluation as a part of the onsite go to (optionally available).

Section 2: Evaluation and Categorization. On this part, information collected throughout the Data Discovery part is analyzed and used to find out the present capability of the mentee CSIRT, and a plan of motion is beneficial to assist enhance the CSIRT’s functionality, together with the next actions:

  • Establish the CSIRT’s mission, targets, and scope.
  • Establish present CSIRT actions, providers, and operations.
  • Establish CSIRT wants primarily based on the help desired.
  • Establish particular circumstances.
  • Benchmark the CSIRT in opposition to the CSIRT Capability Improvement Continuum.
  • Establish the CSIRT’s capability stage.
  • Carry out a niche evaluation.
  • Establish mentoring necessities.
  • Establish potential mentors or companions.­­­

Section 3: Mentoring Plan Improvement. Throughout this part, actions collectively agreed on by the mentor and mentee are developed and documented. This course of consists of attainable mentoring choices, mentoring methods and actions primarily based on necessities, and the creation of a corresponding roadmap, plan of motion, and milestones. It additionally consists of socializing the plan with the mentee and its stakeholders. The primary actions on this part embody the next:

  • Establish related mentoring/help choices.
  • Select mentoring methods and actions.
  • Create the mentoring plan and roadmap.
  • Socialize and procure settlement on the mentoring plan.
  • Create a mentoring undertaking plan and milestones.

Section 4: Implementation and Analysis. The ultimate part includes implementing particular mentoring duties outlined within the mentoring and coaching plan, monitoring the progress of the plan, and evaluating the success of the executed plan utilizing an evaluation methodology. As soon as the mentoring engagement is full, the mentoring crew may match with the framework maintainer to find out acceptable subsequent steps primarily based on what has been realized.

The primary actions on this part embody the next:

  • Implement the mentoring and coaching plan and roadmap.
  • Monitor milestones and accomplishments.
  • Collect suggestions.
  • Regulate plans as wanted.
  • Carry out a postmortem.
  • Assess success.
  • Collect classes realized for inclusion within the mentoring framework.
  • Doc the method as a part of the organizational data.

Establishing Cybersecurity Human Capital

As we acknowledged earlier within the submit U.S. State Division has labored with a number of African nations to determine cybersecurity human-capital capability constructing. Furthermore, a collaborative effort is ongoing because the collaborating international locations proceed to work on creating superior levels of cybersecurity human-capital expertise constructing.

The rest of this submit explores the significance of capability constructing of human capital, which is a crucial part of cybersecurity capability constructing, as mentioned above. The institution of cybersecurity human capital includes a number of steps, starting with the event and implementation of cybersecurity consciousness applications.

A authorities company will carry out consciousness campaigns, together with slogans, posters, pamphlets, and many others., collaboratively with stakeholders locally (e.g., college students, enterprise organizations, authorities companies). Different consciousness actions embody the creation of an annual Cybersecurity Month and the institution of an online presence and social media campaigns. Furthermore, consciousness campaigns must be created for enterprise leaders and executives in key industries, comparable to banking, retail, training, and healthcare, to coach them concerning the dangers and threats of their organizations.

One instance of a profitable marketing campaign developed by the U.S. Division of Homeland Safety is the creation of the slogan STOP.THINK.CONNECT. This slogan highlights to finish customers the dangers that include being on-line. This profitable marketing campaign has been prolonged internationally.

The second step in establishing cybersecurity human capital includes the event of education schemes in major, secondary, and post-secondary colleges. As expertise evolves, so does the cybersecurity panorama. To stay related, education schemes ought to comply with the lead supplied by business and sustain with altering applied sciences.

In a 2016 report titled The Evolution of Safety Abilities by IT certification authority CompTIA, 350 organizations had been surveyed concerning the talent units that had been thought-about necessary on safety groups. The highest two expertise recognized had been community/infrastructure safety and data of assorted threats, as proven within the graphic under. Each of those talent units require that people not solely acquire an understanding of core ideas, but in addition stay present on the altering cyber panorama. Consciousness campaigns involving C-level administration and employees can be utilized to coach and encourage leaders to alter coverage and directives concerning safety.


In Africa, Ghana has made a concerted effort to make cybersecurity a acknowledged family time period. Since 2017, Ghana has performed an annual consciousness marketing campaign throughout October in help of Cybersecurity Month, offering workshops for each the private and non-private sectors. Cybersecurity Month peaks with the Cybersecurity Week occasion, the place Ghana unveils new cybersecurity providers that the federal government will present to all its constituents. The 2020 theme, “Cybersecurity within the Period of COVID-19,” supplied occasions in all areas of Ghana, in addition to a number of workshops and actions starting from youngster on-line safety, panel discussions, and cybercrime and electronic-evidence workshops.

Whereas such occasions are necessary for general consciousness and readiness, organizations wishing to develop cybersecurity applications should first determine current belongings and infrastructure and develop a transparent understanding of the course during which the enterprise and its supporting applied sciences are headed. Analysis has proven that understanding these key elements will assist organizations decide the talents essential for brand spanking new crew members and the talent units that should be enhanced in current crew members.

The Future Course in Cybersecurity Human Capital Constructing in Africa

Challenges in creating human capability and in the end human capital will not be distinctive to Africa. These are human challenges that apply to the worldwide inhabitants. It’s clear that understanding the event of human capital to fulfill present and future wants within the cybersecurity house is important for continuous on-line security of people and organizations, and for nationwide safety. Organizations should flip their consideration to the cyber expertise and literacy of their workforce with a give attention to particular roles inside groups and crew capabilities inside organizations.

Our future analysis will give attention to the intersection of each regional and organizational tradition and its influence on cybersecurity human-capital constructing. Whereas human capital represents the data, talent units, and intangible belongings that add financial worth to people, it’s one thing that can’t be statically measured as demonstrated by Enrico Calandro and Patryk Pawlak in Capability Constructing as a Means to Counter Cyber Poverty. What might be measured is the worth that people convey within the type of return on funding (ROI).

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