Countries need to scale up cybersecurity efforts – experts

Recent cases such as the WannaCry ransomware attack, a worldwide cyberattack which targeted computers running Microsoft Windows Operating Systems, once again demonstrated how vulnerable we are to cyberattacks.

The ransomware attack, unprecedented in scale, infected more than 230,000 computers in over 150 countries, using 20 different languages, to demand money from users using Bitcoin cryptocurrency (digital money).

This was followed by other cases where hackers tried to shut down social media platforms like WhatsApp.

This and other cybercrimes are a testament of a growing problem associated with the rise of technology. What is clear is that so many criminals are using different internet driven platforms to commit crimes with impunity.

The question is how to address this global threat even as more people around the world adopt technology.

“Cyber security has been highlighted as one of the biggest trends this year from a technology perspective. From the recent attacks that the world has experienced, it is clear that security is no longer just a physical thing but a cyber thing as well,” said Laura Chite, the CEO of CIO East Africa, a leading IT magazine.

According to research conducted by the International Data Group, there were about four global trends of which cyber security stands out. The study indicates that cloud is going to be a big deal, then the Internet of Things (IoT) and Big Data.

“People, countries and companies need to be prepared to respond to cyber-attacks. It’s time we take this seriously. Countries should put in place a strategy for cyber-security and if there’s a country that does not have it, then there is a big problem,” Chite said at a cyber security workshop in Kigali last week.

But Karieb Bornheim, one of the experts in cyber-security, says no one is immune to cyber-attacks and people should get prepared and put in place responsive measures to prevent potential large-scale online attacks.

“We all surely know that we’ll be attacked as long as technology, and internet in particular, is evolving. No one is immune to cyber-attacks. But we believe that security is more of a people problem than an IT problem, this is why we think governments should focus and invest more in public awareness, and both in private and public institutions,” she notes.

What is Rwanda doing?

Rwanda, like other countries, has experienced several cyberattacks.

For instance, a hacker group named Anonymous last year made a security breach on Broadband Systems Corporation (BSC), a firm that provides government with video conferencing technology and other internet connectivity services.

The hacker dumped the company’s confidential data on the Internet. The data contained detailed information on its employees and their contacts, encrypted passwords and email exchanges.

But Government is not deterred. Instead, it says it committed to creating more solutions that address cyber security concerns and protecting people and companies from online attacks.

The second edition of Global Cybersecurity Index, released in July by the International Telecommunications Union, ranked Rwanda the second African country that’s committed to cyber security.

According to Anatole Gahongayire, the head of IT Security Division at Rwanda Development Board, although there’s a growing concern over online crimes, globally, the Government has tried putting in place measures to prevent such attacks.

“As far as cyber security is concerned, we have taken steps to address the problem and protect our people. We cannot say there is a bulletproof solution, but we can minimise incidents. The Government is doing its best in this area,” she added.

Rwanda Computer Security Incident Response Centre and the National Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) are some of the initiatives designed to boost the fight against cyber-crime in Rwanda.

The Government is also in the final stages of establishing the Rwanda Information Society Authority (RISA) to enhance the country’s cyber security capacity across all private and public institutions.

editorial@newtimes.co.rw