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Alleged data breach of NIN sparks probe

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By Abraham Adekunle

Assures that citizens' NIN data are safe in the NIMC database.

In a recent development, the federal government of Nigeria has launched an investigation into the alleged breach of National Identity Number (NIN) data of Nigerians. This move comes amidst growing concerns about data security and privacy in the country. The National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) revealed in a statement on Sunday that it had received reports from various sources regarding an alleged breach of citizens’ information by a private organization known as XpressVerify. It’s important to note that XpressVerify is not one of the licensed partners of NIMC, raising questions about how such a breach could have occurred.

According to Kayode Adegoke, the spokesperson for NIMC, the Commission provides NIN verification and other services through licensed partners, and XpressVerify does not fall under this category. This revelation has sparked worries among citizens about the safety and security of their personal data. In response to these concerns, the Director-General and Chief Executive Officer of NIMC, Engr. Abisoye Coker-Odusote, has taken swift action by ordering a comprehensive investigation into the matter. The investigation aims to determine if any of the Commission’s Tokenisation verification agents have breached the licensing agreement, either directly or through their sub-licensees.

Measures are being put in place to protect NIN.

Engr. Coker-Odusote emphasized NIMC’s commitment to protection of information and privacy, stating that every effort will be made to ensure the safety and security of all enrolees in Nigeria’s National Identity Database. She reassured the public that top-level security measures are in place to protect the NIN and other personal data of citizens and legal residents. The statement issued by NIMC also highlights the Commission’s unwavering dedication to safeguarding, securing, and responsibly managing the data entrusted to it. This commitment underscores the critical importance of maintaining public trust and confidence in NIMC’s operations.

As the investigation unfolds, NIMC continues to uphold the highest standards of integrity and accountability. The outcome of the probe will provide valuable insights into the state of data security in Nigeria and the measures needed to address any vulnerabilities or breaches effectively. This incident serves as a stark reminder of the ongoing challenges in ensuring robust protection frameworks and the need for constant vigilance in safeguarding sensitive information. The outcome of the investigation will not only impact the affected individuals but also influence broader discussions on these privacy laws and regulatory oversight in Nigeria.

Data breaches have affected entities globally.

But in recent years, data breaches have become a significant concern globally, affecting individuals, businesses, and governments alike. Nigeria, like many other countries, faces unique challenges in safeguarding sensitive data due to factors such as technological advancements, cybersecurity threats, and regulatory gaps. The rise of digital transformation has led to an exponential increase in the volume generated and shared across various platforms. While this presents opportunities for innovation and efficiency, it also exposes vulnerabilities that malicious actors may exploit.

One of the key challenges in data protection is the lack of comprehensive legislation and regulatory frameworks to address evolving cyber threats effectively. Nigeria has made strides in this area with initiatives such as the Nigeria Data Protection Regulation (NDPR) introduced by the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA). However, gaps remain, particularly in enforcement mechanisms and awareness among stakeholders. The COVID-19 pandemic further highlighted the importance of data security as remote work and digital interactions surged, exposing organizations to new risks. The need for robust cybersecurity measures and data governance practices has never been more critical.

Related Article: Gov’t probe 17 major cases of data breaches

So, as Nigeria continues to digitize its economy and society, addressing breach concerns requires a multi-faceted approach. This includes enhancing cybersecurity infrastructure, implementing protection regulations effectively, fostering collaboration between government, industry, and civil society, and promoting digital literacy and awareness among citizens. The outcome of the investigation into the alleged NIN breach will provide valuable insights into the effectiveness of existing protection measures and inform future strategies to mitigate risks and strengthen security in Nigeria. It underscores the ongoing imperative to prioritize privacy and security in an increasingly interconnected and data-driven world.

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