Hacking in South Africa

March 6, 2013

The claim by hackers that they have hijacked South African Ministry of State Security’s Twitter account, has confirmed my long held fears that African governments have largely ignored threats posed by cyber crooks. Described as a large-scale attack spammers the account @StateSecurityRS account advertised a “miracle diet” before officials were able to change the password and regain control. Bloggers and security commentators in South African and parts of Africa reacted with amusement and many like me fear the next attack could be so harmful and it wouldn’t be hard to shut down the government. I have no idea why such a powerful economy can be fail to tackle online security of government. According to the multiple reports that I have read over the last few years, most developing African nations are either ignoring or unable to secure their online networks and infrastructures and many have quoted South Africa as a particular source of frustration. There is no doubt corruption is fueling proliferation of digital crimes throughout the continent.

Cape Town South Africa.I took this Dias Statue two years ago

When it comes to Cyber Security, South Africa lags behind Kenya, Angola, Ghana and Egypt. Over the last few years, thousands of criminal syndicates have taken advantage of lax cyber security to launch attacks in African continent, by using government and at times business insiders to exploit vulnerable networks. In South African alone, it is estimated that cyber crimes resulted in $291 million in damages and losses across South Africa in 2011.Hackers in the continent will on a long run pose a serious threat to the continent’s growth plan. To help national governments combat this insurgency, there is an urgent need for authorities to come up with comprehensive cyber legislation on all member countries. Lack of such protection, countries cannot take advantage of the digital economy in a sustainable way. You can read my contribution on an IDG cyber crime report published late last year.The good news is that some countries are beginning to step up their efforts to combat online crimes and although most of the continent continues to lag in handling cyber crimes, I hope to see African countries constructing robust digital defenses soon as possible.

Contador Harrison