Imagine walking into your favourite hotel for the night, due to modern technology you decide to pay with your credit card but when swiped it declines and the receptionists gracefully tells you that you do not have enough funds.
Well, Africa losses one billion dollars yearly to illicit financial flows. Recent cybersecurity research indicated that cyber-attacks cost African businesses 3.5 billion dollars in 2017. This is a big blow to Africa’s development. Nigeria has been a hot spot for major cyber-attacks. Cyber-attacks range from malware attacks, system misconfiguration, web application, online and bonnet fraud. In late 2018, a 48-year-old man was arraigned in a Nigerian court for an attempt to defraud people by pretending to be the first lady.
A study by IT services firm Serianu on the amount of money lost by African countries in 2017 to cyber-attacks found that more than 95percent of most African business were operating below cyber security’s poverty line. Most did not have the necessities to protect themselves against the losses. Only four percent of the incidents were reported and only forty percent of organizations kept up with the trends in cybersecurity and program updates.
Nigeria’s economy lost an estimated 649 million dollars followed by Kenya which lost 210 million dollars. This takes a huge toll on the economy and most people are not aware of the digital risk in automating of services. For example, Tanzania has online services that allow one to acquire their birth certificate. This makes it easy for someone to impersonate and use personal data to siphon money from people’s accounts.
In 2016 the ministry of foreign affairs in Kenya experienced what is known as a social-engineering attack. This entails playing with the psychology of the victim and getting the information one needs. The staff was coaxed into giving personal information such as their email addresses and passwords that were used to tap into sensitive data. Prior to this, an Indonesian hacked 100 government websites.
Nearly all cyber threats in Kenya detected between July and September in 2018 went unresolved. The first quarter reported an approximated 3.82 million cyber threats which were a rise from 3.46 million detected between the months of April and June 2018. The most targeted sector is bank institutions. Recently fake currency in Barclays Bank of Kenya was found. Though the real currency was ‘found’ it makes us question the security of our money and transparency in automating services.
In such an environment something needs to be done urgently. Solutions will increase investment opportunities from foreign countries that are withdrawing at the moment. African banks are experiencing a lot of loses. As of 2017, African banks had lost a total of 248 million dollars to cyber-attack related activities.
Can the governments and African banks do more in order to remain secure and at the same time digitalize with the rest of the world?
The number of professionals in cybersecurity is disturbing Kenya, for instance has less than 1,000 given the total estimated population of 40 million citizens. This sees a majority of firms and organizations lacking the necessary personnel to tackle an issue once it emerges. Cybersecurity should be introduced to a majority of the universities in Kenya as few offer the course. The course is still foreign yet the country is digitalizing most of its services.
A majority of the companies see no need to implement cybersecurity standards hence exposed to risk. If the situation is to change the standards implemented should be compulsory to all the organizations. This will help secure most of the peoples’ information that is entrusted to a majority of these institutions.
Banks and government institutions need to understand why they are at risk. The political and economic landscape of some African countries has a role to play in this equation. Banks are targeted mostly as they give information that is insufficient in terms of transparency in terms of their business lines and activities undertaken. The more difficult it is to access anti-money laundering information, the higher the cost of doing business with a specific bank.
Solutions such as transaction screening can be used to take control sanctions. They do this with maximum accuracy and efficiency.
Data analytics enables banks to manage risk and identify problematic transactions in a more targeted and efficient way. This is done through identification and prioritization on areas that banks wish to investigate deeper. Better information on exposures and a clearer understanding of how networks operate.
With fraud moving increasing from data theft to payment fraud, there is a need to re-assess the security of their payment environments. Transaction reporting can provide an important layer of quality assurance. It can highlight when suspicious activity takes place.
Cybersecurity should be discussed in the open and people made aware of it. With developments and a lot of money making way to the economy, we will need to know it is safe.