As Nigeria embraces greater adoption of cloud services for businesses, ensuring data security has become of greater concern, EHIME ALEX writes from stakeholders’ perspective
Cloud data services are creating solutions to the needs of individuals, companies and governments, thus preventing unauthorised access to data, the most valuable asset for any business. They have become vital, no matter the industry.
Experts can tell that since the outbreak of the Coronavirus Disease, cloud adoption has soared, as organisations needed to create options to enable employees work from home, hence bringing cloud data security to the radar.
Cloud services adoption
Over the past years, there has been rapid and widespread adoption of cloud infrastructure, as companies race to launch and scale digital services and applications to stay connected and competitive in a hyper-connected world.
“COVID-19 has increased cloud adoption,” the Chairman, Board of the Nigerian Communications Satellite Limited, Yusuf Kazaure, said at a webinar organised by CWG Plc, recently.
According to Kazaure, some of the reasons companies flock to the cloud include scalability, operational efficiency, cost saving and benefit of using innovations such as Artificial Intelligence and machine learning.
Gartner, a technological research and consulting firm, projects that, by 2025, 85 per cent of enterprises will have a cloud-first principle.
The World Economic Forum’s Global Cybersecurity Outlook 2022 shows that COVID-19 has expedited the use of digital tools in business and the home.
Simply put, cloud computing allows companies to access computing services via the Internet without needing to purchase or set up their own infrastructure locally.
The WEF report, which presents critical findings from 120 global cyber leaders on how to shift from cybersecurity to cyber resilience, also shows that as the use of digital tools increases, so does the amount of data created.
“The World Bank estimates that total yearly Internet traffic, in 2022, will increase by about 50 per cent from 2020 levels, reaching 4.8 zettabytes,” the WEF noted.
Nigeria and data privacy
There were approximately 101.72 million mobile Internet users in Nigeria as at the end of 2021, and the figure is projected to grow to 142.73 million by the end of 2026, according to Statista, a leading provider of market and consumer data.
Last month made it the third year Nigeria considerably joined the global community in marking the International Data Privacy Day, which is held every January 28. The yearly event is held to raise awareness, promote privacy and data protection best practices.
In marking this year’s edition themed ‘Own Your Privacy’, it was disclosed that data breaches had continued to grow in size and scope – exposing consumers’ sensitive, personal information and businesses’ valuable data.
At the webinar, themed ‘Bringing you to the Future: The Journey Towards a Cloud Lifestyle,’ the Founder of CWG Plc and Ausso Leadership Academy, Austin Okere, said cloud services had become as important and as a catalyst.
According to him, today, change is driving technology faster than technology is driving change.
“Security is a big issue. We have to invest in security and adopt the global standard of security,” he said. “That is not to say that nothing will happen; we should always be prepared.”
Okere, while stressing the need for preparedness, said, “It is not today you start preparing for the Olympic of tomorrow; you would have started four years ago. The best time to prepare was 10 years ago.
“Technology makes the boldest ambitions achievable, but people are the north-star that provide vision and direction.”
Explaining that the pandemic is a catalyst, Okere said, “This has forced the suppression of our former reality, and augmented possibilities through which we have created new realities (a new normal). This has enabled mass adoption of technology and attendant digital acceleration.”
He noted that Cisco video conferencing infrastructure, though expensive and complicated, was at a time the in-thing.
“But look at us now, we are on Zoom and Cisco. Same when people could not go to the cinema, here is Netflix and its adoption.
“Today, there is no leadership without technology leadership. Technology has become part and parcel of the business. Therefore, for business to accelerate in growth, technology has to become more available, seamless and cheaper,” he added.
Also of critical importance is guarding against the issues of personalisation in the cloud and response time, Okere warned.
In today’s world, you cannot afford to slack, he asserted, noting that the Chinese use the same word for challenges and opportunities.
“Opportunity and challenge are two faces of the same coin. You may lose your opportunity if you are not prepared.
“We have had this pandemic for two year now, and still people do not have good Internet connection. What if you are going to be interviewed by CNN today, here you are on the news on CNN, the whole world is watching you and your system is buffering. CNN does not have that patience; they will just cut you off and go to the next thing. You have lost the opportunity.”
According to him, leadership in business is leadership in technology. He urges investment in that technology.
Customer service also has to be better on cloud, Okere, said.
Privacy is a very wide area, says the Regional Director, South Europe, Middle East, Africa and Latin America at Zadara, Mr Tal Rotem.
As businesses adopt cloud solutions and adhere to local or global compliance, Rotem warns that while data is encrypted for security reasons, access to the information should be solely owned by the user of the data.
“That means, for security and privacy, no one has access to the data except for the user of the data,” Rotem said, adding that there is also the concern of how safe the user’s network provider is and their facility against data breach.
According to a report by a global cybersecurity and digital privacy company, Kaspersky, Nigeria, among other four countries, accounted for 85 million malware attacks in Africa in the first half of 2021.
The issue of security remains a major concern, as Africa moves closer to cloud services adoption, the Chief Technology Officer at Africa Data Centres, Dr Krish Ranganath, said at the CWG event.
Explaining how ADCs are providing better network performance and interconnection, Ranganath said security remains local, as stored data does not pass through multiple networks, and that it really helps the customer a lot.
Cloud services help businesses with reducing costs, boosting efficiency, increasing agility and assisting in overall growth and innovation. CWG provides a cost-effective means for Nigerian businesses to adopt the cloud service solution, the Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of Unitellas International Limited, Smith Osemeke, said at the CWG webinar.
You could be in public cloud today and you are paying as high as $400 monthly and tomorrow the dollar rates increase, he added. “What CWG is billing their customers in naira.”
Ranganath corroborated Osemeke that it is better to pay with the local currency, as that helps the customer and makes payment easier.
“Cloud data solutions help the cost to be shared among multiple users,” Ranganath added.
Case for local cloud
In making a case for the adoption of local cloud for data services, the Zadara regional director recommended local cloud for some specific reasons.
Rotem explained that for sensitive data flying over the air not on local cloud hosting, the sovereignty of such data might be lost to someone sniffing the air to capture unprotected data over the Internet.
“A lot of organisations today are moving into the cloud environment because they do not want to manage the infrastructure. Applications are changing very fast,” he said.
Earlier in his presentation at the CWG webinar, Kazaure said, “Across the region, cities are racing to make themselves ‘smarter’.Aiming to improve the future quality of life for their citizens, councils and governments are hard at work on a range of projects that will shape urban centres for decades to come.
“Naturally, the vast amount of data generated by a smart city needs to be managed, stored, and processed within a digital centre ecosystem that is future-proof and has access to low latency networks and robust cloud platforms.”
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