African governments closing in on cybercrime

Several African countries have began enacting cyber security standards aimed at curbing Internet insecurity. The move follows a spate of hackings of a number of websites owned by African governments pointing to weak ICT security systems and regulations in the continent.

Cybercrime is one of the world’s fastest growing crimes. As of 2010, the Global Cybersecurity Agenda reported at least 280 million web attacks on individuals and organisations — about 93 percent increase compared to 2009 figures. It estimates annual cybercrime as responsible for more than US$105 billion of online property losses worldwide.

In Kenya, PricewaterhouseCooper’s, PWC’s, economic crime survey designates cybercrime as the country’s fourth largest economic crime.

According to Southern African Development Community (SADC), a 15-member state intergovernmental organization headquartered in Gaborone, Botswana, since many activities and transactions become paperless, African governments should feel an impending need to protect their citizens and their property online.

SADC has further expressed fears 2012 could see an outburst of the menace even as Africa’s internet penetration stands at 13.5 percent against the world average of 32.7 percent. This has seen a number of countries including Tunisia, Nigeria, South Africa, Botswana, Kenya, Mauritius and Zambia set up online security measures.

In Kenya, the Communications Commission of Kenya, CCK, recently entered into partnership with ITU to monitor online activities within the country. The move came after an Indonesian hacker — according to Communication Commission of Kenya, CCK — hacked into 103 government websites in January this year.

Zimbabwe’s Ministry of Finance was also hacked for the second time in February forcing the government to take it down. The hacking of the treasury website, Zimtreasury.org, followed a series of hackings that included Zimbabwe Stock Exchange and Econet Broadband, in Zimbabwe.

Tunisian Prime Minister’s email account and the official website of the Ministry of Justice were also hacked early this month causing the interim government to focus on ending the menace.

According to Tunisia’s Prime Minister, Hamadi Jebali, the Ministry of the Interior has hired experts to prevent future incidences. Haythem Elmir, an official at the National Agency for Computer Security, said the experts would assist the agency in its ongoing work of optimising government websites’ security.

“We have been fighting cyber-crime for the past 5 years. It is a constant battle,” Elmir said.

In Nigeria, the Chairman, Information and Communications Technology Committee of the House of Representatives, Hon. Ibrahim Gusau, told the Executive Board of the Nigeria Internet Registration Association, NRA, Cybersecurity bill would soon be passed into law.

Gusau hopes the Cybersecurity law would help the country enhance its image online and globally.

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