IT security in Africa

September 21, 2012

Over the last few months,close to ten Sub Saharan Africa countries have set themselves plans to improve the IT security skills of African IT undergraduates through what is becoming popular model called train the trainer programme which is a crucial if the countries are to meet the demands of the future.The protection of computer networks is a growing concern as the African continent moves deeper into a digital environment. Lecturers from local universities have in some countries also signed up for the programmes and analysts I have spoken to estimates that with such partnerships, the courses will benefit IT undergraduates who will in turn save respective governments lots of cash spent on hiring security expats from Europe and America most of whom are incompetent as has been witnessed in various countries where they have been hired.African countries main hope is that after the programme, the trained graduates will spread what they have learned. What I have learned is that the primary objective of the programme is to empower local talents and help them improve their IT security skills, especially in combating malicious software that continues to thrive in the continent.

Because of having an insight of the IT development in East and Southern African countries, there is no doubt that lack of talent in computer security is dire because the development of these skills has not been included in the IT course curriculum at many African universities. As a result, security companies find it difficult to find professionals in that field for hire. In my own assessment, I have learned that chances of recruiting African anti-malware analysts is near zero and most of Sub Saharan African countries rely heavily on foreign talent.For this reason, I laud the initiatives African countries are launching to equip African IT undergraduates with the skills so that there will be a talent pool in this niche of computer security.What I know is that a good analyst must be able to identify any malware that has been hidden in a computer program or application, and to even reverse engineer the code.The current programme, apart from computer security, also touches on other security subjects, such as the static and dynamic analysis on malware, as well as the analysis of mobile malware.Mobile malware analysis has become a necessary addistion over thelast few years since more and more people are using smartphones, tablets and other mobile devices.Sub Saharan countries aims to build awareness for other career options in the profession as demand for IT security professionals is really high not only in anti-malware analysis but also in penetration testing, auditing of security policies and network security.

Contador Harrison