Cybercrime costs EAC more than burglary

October 4, 2014

Cybercrime is soaring, already costs East African countries more than traditional crimes, and will only increase as more people conduct their daily lives through relatively insecure and easily lost smartphones and other mobile devices, a specialist on cybercrime told your blogger few days ago.Although for security reasons I cannot mention his name, internet security specialist with an International computer and mobile security company, said a new regional study showed 85 per cent of adults around the East African countries of Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania experienced cybercrime in the last three years alone, much more than previously thought because this type of crime mostly wasn’t reported. More than fifty per cent of the East Africans aged over 30 have already experienced mobile device related cybercrime. That’s cybercrime on their cellphones, tablets and other devices they carry with them as they go about daily business,” specialist said.It’s only going to get bigger because East African are all doing more and more with their mobile devices. According to him, cybercrime on mobile devices has produced a new terminology called smishing which stands for SMS based phishing which aims to gain private information.

In Kenya, Tanzania and recently Uganda, many people are said to go straight to mobile devices like phones and tablets for all their computing needs.This means more and more, mobile devices are being used for routine financial transactions especially the popular mobile money transfers. Kenyans, Ugandans and Tanzanians are buying tea, snacks etc using their mobile device to make that financial transaction, they are checking their bank balance and also making purchases. This is what’s there and in the future and they need it to be safe. It is truly a phenomenon they need to take note of.In its fifth regional review of cybercrime, an international team of cyber specialists surveyed the experiences of 6,000 people in the three East African countries. Taking into account actual financial losses and other factors such as time lost, the study puts the regional cost at US$72.5 million in 2013. That makes cybercrime bigger than the combined regional market for marijuana, cocaine and heroin combined according to the findings.For East Africa, there’s a direct cost of $72.5 million and another $109 million in time spent resolving cybercrime issues. On that basis, cybercrime costs Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania combined more than the traditional crimes of burglary ($17.8 million) and assault ($9.4 million).

Contador Harrison