Cyber security: EAC countries seek global cooperation

November 12, 2012

Internet has provided a platform to empower human beings as never before in the history of mankind and has continued to create unrivalled opportunity to the voiceless to be heard and communicate to the government and voiceless to connect among them.On the downside,Internet has now become safe haven for criminals who have continued to migrate from streets to online enmasse.This has become a menace to the regional trading block countries of East Africa.The five member states of East African Community namely Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda and Tanzania have stressed upon the need for greater cooperation and exchange of information among nations to enhance the cyber security and to address issues related to the management of the internet in the wider East African region. Last week, Interpol and the East African Community agreed to sign a Memorandum of Understanding following the conclusion of negotiations between them on a cooperation framework to ensure safety and security in the EAC region. According to the Arusha, Tanzania-based EAC secretariat, conclusion of the MoU will enhance the pace at which Interpol decisions within the context of the Eastern African Police Chiefs Cooperation Organization are implemented. EAC Secretary General Richard Sezibera underscored the commitment of partner states to cooperate with the International Police in the pursuit of EAC objectives by strengthening collaboration.

Personally, I have always argued that no nation can fight cybercrime or secure its cyberspace in isolation. The only way to fight cyber crime in any country is through increased and focused cooperation among key players, governments and industry bodies that are essential in creating a secure cyber space.Cyber security is a critical challenge being faced by states and stakeholders while exploiting the potential of the Internet is cyber security. What East Africa countries should do is to propose measures that contain agreements on international technological standards and exchange of security related information across nations in order to achieve interoperability between Information and Communication Technology platforms otherwise they are doomed no matter whom they seek cooperation.In the absence of regional interoperability, critical data and information will not be available to all EAC member states, when they require it most. Also, the East African countries should devise standardized and coordinated response strategies, in areas of cyber intelligence, generating alerts and execution of coordinated response in the event of cyber attacks. This is because an informed response to cyber attacks is highly critical in case of crucial services infrastructure such as telecom, energy, finance, power and e-Government. I also think the region should also come up with a comprehensive Cyber Security Strategy, which harmonizes regional criminal laws and ensures cyber justice to users and providers of cyber services, and enables cyber courts with international jurisdictions.

Contador Harrison