Report highlights cyber crime as growing threat to Internet security

A report released by a South African research company in a move to enhance and ensure online security across the African continent has highlighted the growing threat of cyber crime.

According to the report, the ‘South African Cyber Threat Barometer’, threats to integrity, confidentiality and availability of information are increasing as the Internet thrives as a platform for sharing information and conducting business online.

Released by Wolfpack Information Risk Company and partly sponsored by the British High Commission in South Africa, it indicated support for the South African Cabinet’s National Cyber Security Policy Framework (NCSPF) and highlighted online security policy frameworks in other African states.

According to Dame Nicola Brewer, the British Commissioner to South Africa, Lesotho and Botswana, cyber security is one of Britain’s top priorities alongside international terrorism, international military crises and natural disasters.

“Our cyber security strategy aims to build a real and meaningful partnership between government and private sector in the fight against cyber attacks,” she said.

The NCSPF, according to the report, set out policies that were set to see a number of structures and institutions established for coordinating the work of various security cluster departments and identify specific areas of responsibility for a number of government departments.

The report said that cyber attackers, hacktivists, criminal elements and nation states can use the Internet to destroy, manipulate, steal, deny and disrupt access to information as viewed by the public.

Botswana, Ghana, Kenya, Morocco, Mozambique, Nigeria, Namibia, Tunisia and Sudan were among countries included in the report who have implemented cyber security models and initiatives, though it mentioned that lack of awareness and the shortage of local experts in the cyber security field meant there were challenges to implementing effective policies.

Mauritius was said to have the most advanced cyber security policy to match up threats imposed by cyber crimes, while Zimbabwe had no record of cyber crime policies or initiatives.

A total of 40.4 million people were on social media in Africa as at March 2012 in Africa, with Internetworldstats.com saying that the Internet penetration rate as of December 31 2011 was 13.5 percent, with Nigeria, Egypt and Morocco topping the list with 45 million, 21.7 million and 15.7 million users respectively.

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