Cybersecurity Capability Constructing with Human Capital in Sub-Saharan Africa

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In 2020, the United Nations estimated the overall 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, using the Web and different net applied sciences. With this progress in international locations that usually lack the mandatory infrastructure and experience comes the inevitable enhance in cybersecurity incidents and information breaches. As authorities leaders work to create a steady and intensive know-how infrastructure, they have to additionally work to offer alternatives for important coaching and abilities acquisition for present and future African authorities staff, professionals, and college students. The mere existence of quick Web and overseas investments just isn’t ample. As a substitute the main target is on the creation of expert cybersecurity human capital that can work with current applied sciences and develop new innovation to resolve real-life threats distinctive to the African continent. This weblog put up, which is tailored and excerpted from a just lately revealed 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 improvement of training, coaching, and mentoring of cybersecurity personnel. It’s a continuous studying course of through which cybersecurity personnel conduct workout routines in real-life eventualities and interact in information switch, proficiency enchancment, functionality improvement, and abilities constructing throughout ranges of complexity.

This definition emphasizes the position of stakeholders, together with authorities, personal sector, tutorial establishments, faculties, and people. Capability constructing of human capital is thus a vital part of cybersecurity capability constructing. “Human capital” refers back to the human assets, their understanding, information, abilities, and capabilities to carry out. Determine 1 depicts the connection among the many numerous 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 Knowledge Safety (also called the Malabo Conference) with the intention 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 gave the impression to be working independently and thus have been sluggish to undertake and cling to a regional cybersecurity technique. In truth, 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 pc emergency response groups.

Such a cybersecurity digital divide has a far-reaching impact on the area’s financial productiveness, in addition to the flexibility of state governments and native enterprise organizations to rent native cybersecurity human capital. The AU has lengthy advocated for the collaboration and sharing of steady know-how and Web infrastructures amongst members due to the excessive value of funding. Adopting such an method, nonetheless, 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 by way of trusted private and non-private partnerships throughout vital infrastructure (CI) sectors. The CISCP program helps stakeholders handle cyber dangers by way of analyst-to-analyst sharing of utilized menace 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 relies 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 data acquired to its members or present value-added companies, 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 inspire and promote a holistic government-to-government method to increase the cybersecurity capability constructing within the area. As famous earlier, the cyber abilities hole can also be relevant to present staff. Most of the time, the query {that a} safety analyst may have is, “Now that I’ve these instruments, what do I do with them?”

Enhancing cybersecurity capability constructing enhances the flexibility of nationwide governments to create CSIRTs to know and reply to real-time cyber threats by way of 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 will be created for nation states or economies, governments, business organizations, instructional establishments, and even non-profit entities. The aim of a CSIRT is to attenuate and management the harm ensuing from incidents, present efficient steerage for response and restoration actions, and work to stop future incidents from occurring

As I wrote in my 2017 put up, nationwide CSIRTs have taken a distinguished 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 assist functionality and capability constructing for national-level CSIRTs.

To find out the capability through 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 beneath.


Section 1: Data Discovery. This section helps the mentor staff perceive the group requiring mentoring and decide the feasibility for offering help. The data gathered right here is the muse for all the opposite elements on which the framework is constructed. The principle actions on this section embody the next:

  • Establish the help that the CSIRT needs.
  • Submit an information-gathering survey to the CSIRT for completion.
  • Carry out a public-source literature evaluation.
  • Receive perception concerning the CSIRT from put up (the U.S. embassy within the nation).
  • Receive perception from associate CSIRTs.
  • Interview CSIRT members and constituents.
  • Conduct an onsite go to with the CSIRT.
  • Receive insights from authorities or trade 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 section, information collected in the course of the Data Discovery section 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, objectives, and scope.
  • Establish present CSIRT actions, companies, 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 degree.
  • Carry out a niche evaluation.
  • Establish mentoring necessities.
  • Establish potential mentors or companions.­­­

Section 3: Mentoring Plan Improvement. Throughout this section, actions collectively agreed on by the mentor and mentee are developed and documented. This course of contains potential mentoring choices, mentoring methods and actions primarily based on necessities, and the creation of a corresponding roadmap, plan of motion, and milestones. It additionally contains socializing the plan with the mentee and its stakeholders. The principle actions on this section 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 section entails 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 staff may go with the framework maintainer to find out acceptable subsequent steps primarily based on what has been discovered.

The principle actions on this section embody the next:

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

Establishing Cybersecurity Human Capital

As we acknowledged earlier within the put up U.S. State Division has labored with a number of African nations to ascertain 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 abilities constructing.

The rest of this put up explores the significance of capability constructing of human capital, which is a vital part of cybersecurity capability constructing, as mentioned above. The institution of cybersecurity human capital entails a number of steps, starting with the event and implementation of cybersecurity consciousness packages.

A authorities company will carry out consciousness campaigns, together with slogans, posters, pamphlets, and so on., collaboratively with stakeholders locally (e.g., college students, enterprise organizations, authorities businesses). 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 ought to be created for enterprise leaders and executives in key industries, comparable to banking, retail, training, and healthcare, to teach 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 entails the event of teaching programs in major, secondary, and post-secondary faculties. As know-how evolves, so does the cybersecurity panorama. To stay related, teaching programs ought to observe the lead supplied by trade and sustain with altering applied sciences.

In a 2016 report titled The Evolution of Safety Expertise by IT certification authority CompTIA, 350 organizations have been surveyed concerning the ability units that have been thought-about essential on safety groups. The highest two abilities recognized have been community/infrastructure safety and information of assorted threats, as proven within the graphic beneath. Each of those ability units require that people not solely acquire an understanding of core ideas, but additionally stay present on the altering cyber panorama. Consciousness campaigns involving C-level administration and employees can be utilized to teach 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 assist 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 companies 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 baby on-line safety, panel discussions, and cybercrime and electronic-evidence workshops.

Whereas such occasions are essential for total consciousness and readiness, organizations wishing to develop cybersecurity packages should first establish current property and infrastructure and develop a transparent understanding of the route through which the enterprise and its supporting applied sciences are headed. Analysis has proven that understanding these key elements will assist organizations decide the abilities essential for brand spanking new staff members and the ability units that should be enhanced in current staff members.

The Future Course in Cybersecurity Human Capital Constructing in Africa

Challenges in creating human capability and in the end human capital are usually not 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 abilities and literacy of their workforce with a deal with particular roles inside groups and staff features inside organizations.

Our future analysis will deal with the intersection of each regional and organizational tradition and its affect on cybersecurity human-capital constructing. Whereas human capital represents the information, ability units, and intangible property 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 will be measured is the worth that people carry within the type of return on funding (ROI).

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