Africa is growing quickly in terms of population, the economy, and global influence. Today, Africa is home to 1.21 billion people (up from just 800 million in 2000), with a median age of just 19.5 years, the youngest population in the world. With this prominence of youth comes a diverse population that is looking for productive employment, social engagement, free expression, and increased global connectivity. Technology adoption continues to rise in Africa, with mobile smart device ownership growing exponentially, social media use increasing, and the Internet of Things (IoT) becoming a reality. Even the most conservative metrics show that Africa is poised to make great gains and help fuel global growth into the future. With this growing prosperity and digitization however comes new risks and vulnerabilities that could undermine progress.

For Africa to realize its full potential and to reap the full dividend from the development of the digital economy, the most important driver today for innovation, competiveness and growth, policymakers will need to implement effective policies and awareness initiatives to stem the rising tide of cyber threats. These same policymakers, technicians, and other experts have long noted the lack of detailed and reliable threat information regarding cyber-crime threats in the region. Such information is invaluable in assessing and managing cyber risks by providing governments a more complete and nuanced understanding of how criminals and other actors are targeting and exploiting cyber-related vulnerabilities in African Countries.

Africa’s thriving economies have an undeniable link to the success of technology on the continent. However, with these advancements comes the threat of hacking, cybercrimes and malware. Cybersecurity is a growing concern for African organizations – as technology evolves, so will the nature and prevalence of cyber threats. Much like taxes and death, cybersecurity has become a part of our day-to-day lives and it is something that can have a negative impact on both individuals and organizations.

With companies attempting to find more effective ways to connect with their consumers, cybersecurity is posing a huge risk, and has potential to compromise customer loyalty and trust.

 

QUICK FACTS

 

  • 8 million South Africans were victims of online crime in the past year. Globally, there were 602 million cyber-crime victims over the last 12 months.- Source Norton Cyber Security Report 2016
  • Estimated cost?of cyber-crime in Africa has soared with: Nigeria ($550 million), Kenya ($175 million), Tanzania ($85 million), Ghana ($50 million) and Uganda ($35 million)
  • Ransomware (Locky and Zepto) has a ected thousands of organisations and individual users in the region.
  • Insider threat is still the biggest security concern in organisations.
  • Most organisations in Africa are ill prepared to deal with information security threats.
  • Lack of practical regulatory guidance from industry regulators and government.
  • Inadequate training and awareness amongst the law enforcement and judiciary fraternity.
  • When it comes to management of cyber security, 4% either manage cyber security internally or don’t haveany management system in place.
  • Cyber Crime: Ransomware Increased 35 Percent in 2015
  • Cyber criminals are using encryption as a weapon to hold companies’, governments and individuals’ critical data hostage

 

 

TOP PRIORITIES TO THE CONTINENT

 

Technical Training

With the many reported cases of system misconfiguration, open ports, default passwords, there is a need for technical staff to be equipped with hands on technical training in the concepts, principles and techniques required to successfully prevent and/ or mitigate security issues on computing devices in a networked environment. In this day and age, it’s evident that adversaries are not beating us because they have more technology, it’s because they’re more creative, patient, single minded and they explore limitless pathways. Organisation’s should leverage their own creative, curious analysts and set them free to explore. If you don’t have hunters, grow them. Free your people to chase the Why? Empower them with tools and education to enable them get relevant skills

 

Awareness and Information Sharing 

 

The levels of awareness and information sharing in Africa needs to increase. What we know today will never be enough. Just like in sports, in order to have a good strategy you should know who you are playing against. In today’s African organisation, most employees don’t know who they are defending against and they sometimes don’t even know the game being played. Our information sharing is too slow.  As a continent therefore, there is need to raise awareness through online programs, class based trainings and workshops. With regards to information sharing, we need to create a “Wikipedia” sort of phenomena where we can share information about incidents that have occurred and ways of mitigating them.

 

Collaboration 

 

With everything moving to the cloud, physical barriers no longer hold water when it comes to the fight against cybercrime. African organisations need realize this and work together in order to realize reduced cybercrime rates. This will require leadership at country level, although teams can work collaboratively to obtain greater resources, and expertise in this fight against cybercrime

 

Government Policies 

African governments need to strengthen the implementation of their existing cybercrime laws and policies. This will involve adopting more mature processes for cybercrime prosecution and raising awareness to citizens on reporting of Cybercrimes. Another critical area that governments should focus on is involving more sectors during development of these cyber policies and laws; Universities, local groups, organisations and cyber security specialists.

 

Eco System Engagement

There is need for each member of the Cyber security eco systems to be first, aware that they are part of the eco system and second, understand their role in the eco systems.?The ecosystem should contain but not limited to Universities, research Institutions, Government Department of Defense, cyber security experts, Media houses etc.

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