Removing phone batteries helps fight espionage in meetings

Posted on November 22, 2013 06:51 am

African Governments need to educate Internet users on how best to protect their digital lives and promote cyber security and safe online practices to create a safer digital experience. Studies have shown in South Africa, Nigeria, Ghana and Kenya social networks, popular websites, mobile app stores and downloads for games and poker accounts for more than 80% of time spent online by young are the most highly risky and prone to cyber crime. In South Africa and Nigeria, theft of identity, spammers, hackers and other cyber crooks are increasingly threatening South Africans and Nigerians digital lives. All Africans need to become part of the solution if the continent is to overcome the rising threat of cybercrime. The continent has suffered losses amounting to more than $3 billion in just three years and it looks like its only getting worse. A total of 78,200 incidents related to online security issues were reported in 2012, a 43% jump from 2011. Multiple studies have indicated that cyber attacks are not limited to just business and financial operations, but also Government websites with Nigeria, South Africa and Kenya being among the most affected.

Companies in sub Saharan Africa are becoming increasingly vulnerable to cyber-hacking as they automate their infrastructures and now that most of them are relying more on the Internet according to a survey of nearly 100 companies in sub Saharan Africa conducted last year found. In one of the studies, researchers revealed that threats in Africa coming from criminals main target is to make money from supply disruptions, rivalry in hunting business secrets, governments owned firms looking for assistance in contract talks. More than 50% companies in the survey experience a rise in external threats and cyber criminals are being attracted to illicit activities by money and fame. The most vulnerable are small to mid-sized companies and especially those that have failed to tighten security in their systems. The big companies have more advanced and sophisticated systems in their risk management systems and although some have experienced hacking activities. At least fifteen large banks were hit by Cyber-attack in the past three years. In One bank in Nigeria, their amateur IT staff could only detect by accident when they were examining the reliability of a system in its transactions chain. Another bank based in South Africa was said to have discovered coding in the software had been altered unauthorized.

Such attacks are an indication that there are so many companies affected by cyber crime activities than has been reported because most don’t want to reveal it publicly. However, unlike five years ago many companies are now aware of threats. A preventive measure that is fast gaining prominence is the policy that demands meeting attendants to remove the batteries from their mobile phones and in some cases gadget free meetings. It’s an obligation for companies in Africa to secure their systems the same way they have done with internal networks. Attacks on company are dangerous as it could cripple vital information network and may impact heavily on the staff’s social life and company business development. African Governments are well aware of the important role the public can play in developing and improving on national policies like cyber strategies. Most will need to acknowledge that cyber policymaking is a complex process and the best way to address it is to allow public access to information. They would then be better informed and can contribute their views and ideas about cyber strategies. With the increasing systems being used online space comes with greater susceptibility to online threats. African private and public sectors need to act now and need to empower the society to build a generation of responsible digital citizens.

Contador Harrison