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‘Bail Out Fund On Salary, Wasteful’

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An economist, Mr
Iduonku Ikata, has said that the recent bail out funds handed down to states in the country to pay their workers would not add any positive impact on the economy if such funds could not be used in infrastructural development.
Ikata, a Senor Partner, Ikata, Ikata and Company who spoke to our correspondent in an exclusive interview in Port Harcourt yesterday, explained that the development would put so much money into the recurrent expenditure with little for capital expenditure.
“It is capital expenditure that drives productivity, it is capital expenditure that provides infrastructure while recurrent expenditure does not add anything, it just bloats the cost of governance,” he said.
According to him, it was necessary to determine under which window such funds were released and applied.
He said if government could not define the windows under which these bailout expenses are applied, it would not be easy to give a verdict on the long economic picture.
Ikata, who is a tax expert further explained that if such funds were strictly for the payment of worker’s salaries alone and not contractors for ongoing projects to provide benefit to the public then such funds were not well spent.
He said even with the assumed general knowledge that the money the federal government was giving to the states was to enable them pay salaries, it would at the long run not add any social benefit to them (states).
“It is not likely to add any social infrastructure to the assets of the states, therefore, the question remains that if you are not procuring assets or anything that promises future economic benefit it means the money spent on an item that will not produce any tangible infrastructure is of no benefit to the people”, he said.
On the ability or otherwise of the various state governments to pay their workers, Ikata expressed the view that the governors did not set their priorities right.
He said it was not that the governments could not pay salaries but it was their priorities that are being questioned.
He further opined that the governors deliberately removed workers salaries out of their priority lists to enable them finance other exigencies.
“If what you want to do with the money (salary) was a capital item with the expectation of a future economic benefit, good, but we all suspect and I doubt if it was expended on infrastructure”, he said.

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Information Technology

AWS Security Audit: Things To Keep In Mind, Checklist, and Tools

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AWS security audits are important for any organization looking to assess its IT Security. AWS security audits involve both a technical and non-technical review of all major systems, networks, databases and applications. The audit also includes an assessment of the organization’s risk tolerance level in order to prioritize remediation efforts. 

AWS security auditing is also essential when it comes time to ensure compliance with industry standards like HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability & Accountability Act), PCI DSS (Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard) and ISO 27001/27002 (International Organization for Standardization Security Standards, ISO 27001 specifically.

This blog post will provide you with some tips on things to keep in mind, a checklist, and tools and processes that your company can use for performing security audits on your AWS environments.

5 Things to keep in mind during security audit for your AWS

  1. Security assessment of the existing environment.
  2. Security assessment for new/future services and products.
  3. Review AWS managed security service (ex. IAM, encryption) availability, performance & capacity limits.
  4. Security assessments at the application layer include web applications servers like Apache or Nginx running on ECWs and databases like MySQL or Oracle Database running in RDS instances.
  5. Security audits for any other technologies that are used by your organization can be performed as well. 
  6. You should also ensure network segmentation between cloud resources and create a secure baseline configuration with an eye toward best practices around networking, operating systems deployment processes, patching processes, monitoring tools, etc.

A security assessment is not a single snapshot of the environment. It’s an ongoing process that enables continuous monitoring, discovery and improvement by identifying vulnerabilities, threats or exposures to assets before they become issues.

AWS security audit checklist

  • Perform risk assessments in order to understand the business impact/criticality of assets being reviewed.
  • Perform AWS penetration testing to discover potential vulnerabilities and misconfiguration issues in your AWS environment
  • Identify current controls & their effectiveness/scope – e.g., existing access control lists (ACLs) around VPC subnets or network ACL rules controlling traffic between ECWs.
  • Ensure PCI DSS compliance checklist is completed by third-party service providers who manage payment card information data.
  • Determine if AWS managed services meet data protection requirements as outlined in the ISO 27001 and 27002 standards.
  • Identify data flows, compute usage and potential attack vectors.
  • Conduct a network penetration test to identify possible security vulnerabilities that could be exploited by an attacker to gain access into your AWS environment.
  • Review configuration management dashboards for all servers/networks/applications and ensure configurations are set correctly (e.g., SSL certificates with right expiration date) – third-party tools like CloudSploit can help here.
  • Ensure you understand what is happening on the wire where it counts: between ECWs, RDS instances or across VPCs (VPC peering etc.) – NetFlow logs from EBS volumes or Elastic Network Interfaces (ENIs) can be helpful here.
  • Monitor network activity and look for anomalies – e.g., unusual traffic flows coming from an ECW to a known bad actor IP address or application-level data exfiltration attempts.
  • Review AWS CloudTrail logs to see who is trying to access what, when they are doing it, where the requests are originating from/going to etc.
  • Create alerts on security metrics that show abnormal behaviour (e.g., increase in failed login attempts into RDS instances). These patterns should then be cross-referenced with other sources of information like VPC flow logs or network ACLs & firewall rules around subnets.

AWS security audit tools

1) AWS Security Hub

This new service is a centralised location to monitor, track and act on all security-related events for your AWS environment. This includes notifications about third-party configuration issues with services like Elastic Load Balancing or Amazon API Gateway as well as vulnerabilities in other software packages running within ECWs (e.g., Apache Struts). Other data sources include the following: VPC flow logs, CloudTrail event histories, network ACLs/firewall rules around subnets etc. Run automated remediation tasks directly from this console when required too!

2) CloudWatch Events

Get notified via email & Slack of critical changes to your systems that require immediate attention – e.g., an administrator has just deleted an important ECW or security group.

3) CloudFront Access Logs

Get notified via email & Slack of unauthorised access to your SaaS services – e.g., someone has just launched a DDoS attack against one of the databases hosted on an RDS instance!

4) AWS Config Rules

Periodically check that all CloudWatch alarms for metrics like “CPU usage” and “free EBS volume space” are working as expected. Automatically remediate if they’re not (e.g., launch another ECW, increase alarm thresholds etc.)! Or simply use Amazon Inspector which will do this for you automatically (see below).

5) Amazon Inspector

This service provides deep insights into what’s running within any given AWS environment – including any vulnerable software packages or misconfigurations that could lead to a security breach.

6) Amazon Macie

This service uses machine learning and big-data techniques to automatically discover, classify & protect sensitive data stored within your AWS environment – e.g., PHI/PII data belonging to customers (e.g., Social Security Numbers). It can help you meet compliance requirements outlined by industry standards like HIPAA, PCI DSS etc..

7) AWS Config Rules

This new feature allows you to validate configuration settings across all ECWs in an AWS account for services like Amazon SNS/Kinesis/DynamoDB and resolve issues before they affect production environments (e.g., workflows executed against the affected resources will fail if rules are violated).

Each of the above services/tools should be used to help you continuously improve your AWS security posture – by allowing you to identify & fix configuration errors before they affect production environments. If one service isn’t sufficient enough, simply use two or more in conjunction with each other!

Summing Up…

If you want to be sure that your organization is safe from hackers, then it’s important to do an AWS security audit. A lot of companies are now realizing the importance of this and have been doing these audits as a precautionary measure. In today’s world where technology has taken over our lives, we need to make sure that we don’t make any mistakes with data security because there will always be someone looking for vulnerabilities in order to exploit them. So, keep your business safe!

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Business

Refinery’s Rehab: PHRC Boss Seeks Host Communities’ Support

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The managing director of Port Harcourt refinery company (PHRC), Ahmed Dikko, says the support of host communities will contribute to the success of the rehabilitation of the refinery.
In May, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) commenced the rehabilitation of the Port Harcourt refinery in Rivers state.
This was after the federal executive council (FEC) approved the sum of $1.5 billion for the rehabilitation.
The repair, which will be executed by Tecnimont SPA, an Italian company, will be done in three phases of 18, 24 and 44 months, respectively.
Dikko, who said the PHRC is already engaging the host communities, expressed optimism that they will support the project.
“Host communities’ engagement is one of the key priorities for the success of this project and PHRC management recognises this right from the earlier days of the award of this contract and has done a lot in this regard through the public affairs,” he said.
“The first is to put out the information correctly about this project, and the second is to manage the expectations of the communities.
“The approach that we are using is to get the communities to buy into the project and be part of it. So much has been covered and I’m delighted with the way we are going. We are going to have the support of the communities.
“The contractors themselves have nominated a community representative that is working closely with our public affairs team in the manner to ensure that the right information is given to the communities.
“Everybody is part of the rehabilitation project, and in whatever department you are, you must contribute your own to make sure that we truly succeed.
“Whether you are in the human resources, engineering, or admin department; there is a role for you in the project, and I’m happy that the staff have taken it on, and are looking forward to the actual commencement of activities physically.
“We have gone further again to keep knowledge sharing so that everybody will understand clearly what the project is about, and also the scope of work that we want to do. That way, we’ll have a role to play as it goes on.”
Dikko also said the rehabilitation of the refinery will be completed as scheduled, adding that the contractors have been given what they need to get the project done.
“It is not a small thing knowing full well that all specs of all the equipment and everything therein that will make the contractor succeed have to be given; all the documentation that we have. So, we have done that; we’ve given thousands of documents to the contractor,” he said.

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Business

Godwin Emefiele: Bad Bank Debtors Frustrating Loan Recovery

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The Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Godwin Emefiele, said that recalcitrant debtors have exploited the lack of prioritisation of credit recovery matters by the Nigerian judicial system to frustrate debt recovery efforts of financial institutions in the country.
Emefiele stated this at a workshop for judicial officers on recent reforms of the banking financial services sectors in Nigeria held in Abuja.
The Governor was represented by the Deputy Governor, Financial System Stability, CBN, Aisha Ahmad.
According to the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON), out of a total of N4.158trn bad loans, it has so far recovered over N1.48trn.
It still has 7,902 outstanding obligors with a total outstanding loan of above N3.1trn, while 350 obligors alone account for over N2.053trn, with more than 70 per cent of the total outstanding amount.
Emefiele disclosed the plan by the CBN to engage stakeholders in the Judiciary to enforce The Special Tribunal for the Enforcement and Recovery of Eligible Loans.
The Special Tribunal which is a provision of the Banks and Other Financial Institutions Act was introduced to accelerate credit recovery processes and enforcement of collateral rights.
Speaking on the significance of the BOFIA 2020, the apex bank boss said that the Act is expected to reinvigorate the Nigerian banking sector as it will engender a sound and stable financial system that will support sustainable growth and development of the Nigerian economy.
He said that the BOFIA 2020 also strengthens the Anti-Money Laundering and Combating Financing of Terrorism Framework by mandating regulated entities to comply with AML/CFT and cyber security regulations.
Emefiele also pointed out that the BOFIA contains provisions to effectively manage unclaimed funds or abandoned property in dormant accounts maintained with banks, specialised banks and other financial institutions, as well as recovery tools for failing banks.
BOFIA 2020 also provides enhanced recovery and resolution tools for failing banks.

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