Cyber-Security now a top issue in broadcasting, says Former NBC boss

Cyber-Security now a top issue in broadcasting, says Former NBC boss

As Nigeria begins the switch over from analog broadcasting to digital terrestrial broadcasting, former Director General of National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), Emeka Mba, has stressed the importance to make cyber security in broadcasting a top issue.

While delivering a presentation at the National Cyber Security Awareness Month Conference (NASCAM) held recently in Oriental Hotel, Lagos, Mba noted that as Nigeria moves into the new digital broadcasting ecosystem, cyber crime territory is expanding from just within the IT sector to also include the broadcast industry.

In the presentation titled ‘Cyber Security and the Emerging Digital TV Ecosystem: Implications for infrastructure, for capacity, for policy and regulation’, the former NBC DG said as NBC is currently working on the Digital Switch over, security and privacy should also be issues of concern for the Commission.

He called on NBC to recognize and escalate the issue, as well as conduct an industry wide threat analysis to probe vulnerabilities and build defensive walls against cybercrime in digital broadcasting.

When the term “Cyber Security” or “cybercrime” is mentioned, most people would only imagine it to be an issue within the IT sector without considering the broadcast industry which is also a vulnerable area of cyber crime.

Mba however informed those in attendance at the conference that “times are changing, as we embrace more internet based services and protocols in broadcasting and convergence of not only services and equipment, Cyber Security in broadcasting is fast becoming a development that our industry is only beginning to content recently.”

“NBC is currently working on the Digital Switch over, security and privacy should also be issues of concern for the Commission. _Emeka Mba”

“It would seem to most broadcasters that cyber security is not a serious concern to them at this time, perhaps because they do not deliver IP based services. However, it is still expedient to conduct a checklist of secondary IP or internet exposure along the broadcast chain: from content creation, editing, remote contribution, and transmission, especially remote transmission monitoring,” said Mba.

The former DG believes that as broadcasting becomes more reliant on digital and internet technologies, it would become even more vulnerable to new kinds of threats, especially cyber attacks.

“This is even more so for services that are heavily reliant on Internet Protocol-based technologies for their core operations. Internet technologies driving ‘technological convergence’, everything now is connected, broadcast signals now digitized; signal monitored, remotely connected to the internet; Smart TV sets connected to the internet; the signal is connected to the power grid; the power grid is connected to a computer,” he said while highlighting areas of vulnerability in the broadcasting process.

He related that on April 8, 2015, hackers penetrated the French broadcaster TV5Monde, crippling email and production facilities, hijacking social media accounts and disrupting the transmission of 11 channels for three hours. This can happen in Nigeria too if measures are not taken fast to prevent it, he said.

Noting that the switch to digital broadcasting “is a logical and necessary process for broadcast companies to keep pace with technological development, and to benefit from the efficiencies of digital media network distribution,” Mba stressed that “any system based on delivering digital media over the internet is potentially vulnerable to cyber attack from outside.”

Specifically mentioning broadcast signal intrusion as a cybercrime in broadcasting, the former DG believes that the hijacking of broadcast signals of radio, television stations, cable television broadcast feeds or satellite signals can take shape if necessary actions are not taken to prevent it.

He listed other cyber-criminalities in broadcasting to include Distributed Denial of Service, Unauthenticated Request Forgery, Authenticated Request Forgery, Intranet Request Forgery, Phishing/Social Engineering, exploiting Distribution among others.

Threats can be targeted to the system infrastructures which include Studio Production facilities, Transmission Infrastructure, and the Subscriber management systems. While to the individual DTT consumer, hacking and data privacy issues can be targeted to the smart TV and the Set top Boxes, according to the former DG.

He thus called on the NBC to ensure that equipment suppliers for the DSO design and build broadcast equipment that have less vulnerability, and can be updated with new firmware to thwart possible attacks.

He also said the Commission should develop strategies, countermeasures and standards to deal with the future scenarios of any form of cyber-attacks on Smart TV, at any time and from anywhere.

“NBC working with industry and cyber security experts must as a matter of urgency review the framework for securing critical national infrastructure, with specific regards to the emergent digital broadcasting ecosystem,” he said.

Success Kafoi, is a Lagos-Nigerian based ICT Journalist and a Guest Blogger for Nexxy Tech. you can connect with him on twitter @Tach_Kafoi and Facebook

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