As Prepared Remarks by CDA Christopher J. Lamora
Launch Ceremony for Ghana’s National Cyber Security Month 2020
October 1, 2020, 9:00 a.m.
Accra Digital Center
Honorable Minister Owusu-Ekuful
National Cyber Security Advisor Dr. Albert Antwi-Boasiako,
Everyone joining virtually from around the world
Good morning. I’m delighted that so many colleagues, business leaders, and members of the Government of Ghana could join us today in person and virtually. Thank you to the Minister of Communications, the Honorable Ursula Owusu-Ekuful, for inviting me to participate in Ghana’s National Cyber Security Awareness Month. I also would like to thank National Cyber Security Advisor Albert Antwi-Boasiako and his team at the National Cyber Security Center for their excellent collaboration with the United States on these issues. Through our joint efforts, including those of the U.S. Embassy through the Security Governance Initiative, we continue to strengthen Ghana’s cybersecurity and capacity to fight cybercrime, improve Ghana’s border and maritime security, and strengthen the administration of justice.
Increased demand for internet connectivity during the COVID-19 pandemic has made secure digital technology more important than ever. The fact that we can engage virtually and accomplish so much is due to phenomenal advances in the information and communications technology space over the last decade, but as U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo noted earlier this year, “technological advancements that provide greater interconnectivity also offer greater opportunity for exploitation by malicious actors.” This is equally true for Ghanaians, Americans, and anyone else connected to the global internet. Businesses, governments, and private citizens have come to depend on an internet that is open, interoperable, secure, and reliable. Digital technology and connectivity are critical to our daily lives and livelihood, and Ghana’s future as a global leader, so we must actively protect against malicious actors that seek to exploit vulnerabilities.
The cooperation between the United States and Ghana on cybersecurity and cybercrime has played a part in recent high-visibility successes, like the arrest of the criminals behind the Empressleak website, and the disruption of a multi-million-dollar cyber fraud scheme. Congratulations for bringing to justice those who victimized the most vulnerable. These interventions not only required cooperation between Ghana and international partners like the United States, but also relied on the seamless interaction amongst Ghana’s cybersecurity and law enforcement agencies. The Security Governance Initiative has championed inter-agency and inter-ministerial cooperation since its launch here in Ghana in 2016, and these success stories highlight the benefits of that approach.
However, the biggest cybersecurity victories are often invisible. It’s nearly impossible to publish headlines touting the cyber attacks that didn’t happen, the identities never stolen, or the banks that weren’t hacked. In this way, cybersecurity is a lot like public health – an analogy well suited to this month’s theme of “Cybersecurity in the Era of COVID-19.” Effective prevention can give the impression that the threat isn’t serious. But this overshadows the very active, very hard work of the professionals like those at Ghana’s National Cyber Security Center and the Computer Emergency Response Team, who are consistently and persistently monitoring and strengthening Ghana’s defenses against very real threats originating in cyber space.
Staying one step ahead of cyber criminals requires diligent work to identify, report, and ultimately eliminate vulnerabilities. We all share in this responsibility, and must hold ourselves and others accountable for good cybersecurity habits in both our personal and professional lives. Cybersecurity Awareness Month is a great opportunity to renew that commitment.
In fact, today the United States is launching our own campaign for Cybersecurity Awareness Month. For us, the theme is “Do Your Part; Be Cyber Smart.” While the slogans may be different, the intent behind Cybersecurity Awareness Month, both here in Ghana and in the United States, is the same – to enlist all digital technology users, including children, educators, business leaders, and government officials and entities, in the collective effort of cybersecurity.
I would like to once again thank everyone for participating, not only in today’s launch, but also in the many activities the planning team has lined up for the month ahead. The upcoming agenda reflects the inclusive, multi-stakeholder approach that Ghana has adopted in the pursuit of cybersecurity goals, and the United States is honored to work with our good friends in this effort.