African economies most vulnerable to cyber attacks – Experts

CYBER ATTACK: faceless computer hacker
CYBER ATTACK: faceless computer hacker

Information and communication technology (ICT) experts on Thursday warned that African economies are at higher risk of being the target of cyber attacks, due to lack of expertise to tackle sophisticated attacks.

They made the remarks at a session panel of Cloud and Security Summit 2018 in the Rwandan capital Kigali.

The two-day regional forum focuses on highlighting the role of cyber security at the center of business innovation in the region.

It also provides a platform to engage with the foremost minds leading the digital transformation to drive economic growth in the region, according to organisers.

“As more people get access to the internet across Africa, governments and businesses are increasing their online presence, there is less expertise to secure vital governments and company’s data from cyber attacks,” said Michael Tumusiime, head security engineer of Eastern Africa for Check Point Software Technologies.

He added that majority African countries have been struggling to crack down on cyber-crimes, while some have no
budget and do not train their staff in cyber security.

According to the World Economic Forum (WEF)’s annual Global Risk Report for 2018, cyber-attacks are now considered
the third most serious global threat behind only extreme weather and natural disasters.

“Cyber-security is a growing concern for African organisations as technology evolves. African economies are not yet ready to avert cyber-threats due to lack of adequate expertise to contain these attacks,” said Innocent Muhizi, chief executive officer of Rwanda Information Society Authority.

He noted that cyber-attacks could cripple economies, companies and society without collaboration and strong defensive
mechanisms to avert the threats.

Cybercrime is currently costing the world economy 500 billion U.S dollars annually and is still growing, according to WEF.

Kunle Awosika, Kenya country manager of Microsoft Corporation, said the African market is saturated with cyber hackers.

Awosika said the hackers are constantly developing new techniques to access valuable data, rob financial institutions and blackmail governments and companies.

“African economies need to invest massively in fighting cyber-crimes. Urgent action is needed to create safe operating
environment for digital economies on the continent to thrive,” he added.

According to 2017 Global Cyber Security Index of International Telecommunications Union, the level of commitment in
Africa to cyber security is lowest compared to other continents.

the index showed thay only Mauritius and Egypt are in the leading stage of demonstrating high commitment to cyber
security on the continent.

The Cloud and Security Summit 2018 brought together more than 100 participants including technology and cyber-security experts, government officials and members of the private sector from the Eastern African region and beyond.