The first workshop of the year had participants drawn from different fields of profession, from several organizations, including students, aimed to give a more in-depth insight into real use cases of Data Science and Cyber Security, highlighting modelling, programming, decision making, structured thinking and machine learning. Other areas of cyber security talked about fraud prevention, strategies, social engineering, identity theft, amongst many more areas of interest. The Data Science and Cyber Security workshop was organized together with its partners by the Institute of ICT Professionals Ghana on 19 February 2020, at The Digital Transformation Hub, in Accra, for its members.
The workshop had three resource persons, who gave real life scenarios in their various fields of expertise, bringing the narrative to the barest understanding, in order for professionals and students in the ecosystem to realize the very essence and impact of data science and cyber security in today’s digitization agenda.
Speaking on Data Science, Dr Stephane Nwolley, Chief Executive Officer of Npontu Technologies, and an Adjunct Lecturer at the Asheshi University, explained that Data Science involved an understanding of Computer Science, Statistics, and Mathematics, in addition to one’s domain area. This could be health, education, agriculture, banking, finance, etc. He cited many examples accounting for the design of data sets. Such as the multiplicity of dialects made it difficult to design data sets to make predictions in local dialects for use by data scientists. He said globally, only a few people ventured into the field of data science and with limited access to the needed technology to help in the implementation of Artificial Intelligence (AI) strategies. Thus, he called on government and other institutions to tap into data science to aid them develop effective policies and take business decisions.
Mr Derek Kweku Degbedzui, a Research Data Scientist at TechBooth Technologies Limited, and founder of the Ethical Al Lab also called on government to develop a long-term framework to guide professionals in the application of artificial intelligence. He mentioned that the framework should encompass an inclusion of the technology into educational curriculum and the setting up of skills acquisition centres to develop the requisite know how for students to fit into the business world. He emphasised that students should have internships with various institutions to help them gain practical knowledge and later integrate into the job market.
Over the years, Ghana has taken steps in joining the awareness creation of cyber security, and as the country places 9th on global social media rankings – in terms of hours spent on social media, means that more people or devices are connected online than before. This also means these connected devices are open to all forms of attacks, hence the need for real case explanations backed with vivid data for professionals and students to realize the very essence of staying safe online and further understanding in the cyber space.
To ensure Cyber Security, Dr Yankson encouraged participants to comply with security measures stipulated by their institutions. He called on companies not to centre training programmes only on the Information Technology (IT) staff but to include all other members because anyone could be used as a medium to carry out cybercrime and its related activities. He said most people and organizations did not report cases of cybercrime due to personal ego, protection of the organisation’s reputation, ignorance that the fraudulent behaviour was a crime, while others regarded the criminal justice processes as a lengthy one. He encouraged and assured the public that any report on cybercrime would be treated with privacy; hence, should be bold to report any such case to the appropriate authorities.
Dr Yankson, Director of the Cybercrime Unit of the Criminal Investigations Department (CID), Ghana Police Service, cited critical infrastructure sectors such as health, government, communications, banking amongst others that needed to pay attention to cyber security issues. He also clarified many mobile money and cyber fraud schemes in Ghana, with interactive questioning from the participants. He ended by pointing out that cyber threats are real, dynamic and all around us. Knowing the threats and how they operate is the first step to cyber security, thereby employing best cyber hygiene practices is the way. As awareness, training and education is important, so is a well-planned and rehearsed response to detection. Dr Yankson added that Artificial Intelligence has the ability to improve cyber security in the country. He said the technology has the potential to detect changes that occurred periodically in the cyberspace and could adapt to those changes accordingly, hence prevents one’s device from being exposed to threats. A safe cyber space is the responsibility of all.
The Institute of ICT Professionals, Ghana (IIPGH) has keen interest in data science, cybersecurity, Internet of Things, amongst other emerging technologies, and is playing an instrumental role through education and advocacy. IIPGH is a non-profit professional association made up of professionals of over 1,600 members in various domains of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) practice. The Institute is a connector of ICT professionals from Government MDAs, educational institutions, corporate organizations, start-ups, investors and the civil society organizations to create a vibrant ICT ecosystem.
The organization aims at using its platform to equip businesses, professionals and students with skills in emerging technologies needed for business decisions, entrepreneurship and employment in today’s fast moving technological world. In addition, use the expertise at its disposal to advice government and other stakeholders on best practices and public policies that would enable the use of ICT in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).