The military on the African continent should devise ways to deal with cyber warfare in their respective countries by investing heavily in building systems and human resource development.
The advice was given Tuesday by Eugene Kaspersky, the founder and CEO of Kaspersky Lab, while addressing the National Security Symposium at the RDF Defence and Staff College in Musanze district.
Founded in 1997, Kaspersky Lab is a multinational cybersecurity and anti-virus provider headquartered in Moscow, Russia and operated by a holding company located in the United Kingdom.
Kaspersky, who is in the country to attend the Transform Africa Summit, among other activities, said that cybersecurity, cyber terrorism and cyber warfare are on increase in different institutions of the world, including the military.
He said however that such cybercrimes can be handled including in military.
“In a cyber space, first of all, there are no borders; it is just cyber and sometimes it is hard to recognise where the missile comes from to investigate, unlike in traditional wars where you know that the missile was sent from the other side of the river,” he said.
“In cyber space, the missile comes from somewhere you can’t immediately attribute who did it and it takes time to investigate which country or which people sent it,” he added.
He said that to deal with the issue, there is need for security organs to build their defence capabilities.
“If we speak about cyber defence, I think cyber-attacks are offensive, the most optimal way is to build infrastructure which is not possible to hack,” he said, adding that the very least, such system must be very expensive to hack into.
He said it was unfortunate the cybercrimes still exist and the numbers are huge because every day his lab collects over 350,000 new malicious applications.
He was speaking on the panel dubbed: Cyber Terrorism; a Threat to National Security: Deterrent Measures and Mitigating Strategies.
He said that countries don’t have enough of resources and the most optimal way is to find the balance in investment into their own systems and into their own education and investment to attract skilled people to protect the infrastructure.
Kaspersky said that there are several attacks where criminals were able to hack highly protected enterprises such as banks, governments, private companies among others.
“The first threat and the first danger to the world of cybercrimes is that there are more young engineers in cybercrime and they are getting experience year by year; young criminals are becoming smarter, more experienced and they join the highly professional criminal gangs,” he noted.
“At the same time, we see highly professional state-sponsored attacks, there are many nations which are in this game and they create highly complicated cyber tools to attack infrastructure around us in transportation, health care and everywhere around us,” he said.
Dr Hamadoun Toure, Founding Executive Director of Smart Africa and former Secretary General of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) said that many countries are reluctant to have a treaty on cybercrime yet there is need for such instrument.
He also called for need for human capacity building to address the issue.
“There are so many threats, we need capacity building; our youth need to be trained. Criminals are using many tactics, hiding identity, using assumed names and other sophisticated ways,” he added.
Major General Joseph Nzabamwita, the Secretary-General, National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) said that cyber-attacks on security establishments are real and should be dealt with.
“The cyber space is becoming an area of interest for defence and security personnel. For us as Africa we are still behind in all areas to have the capacity to defend our continent, the terrorists are now leveraging the advancement in technology.
“Cyber space is a new norm and the future, we as defence and security professionals have got to invest in the understanding of cyber warfare,” he said.
He said that there are terrorist groups such Al-Shabaab among others that are known to use the cyber to perpetuate crimes on the continent.
Besides the human capital gaps, Nzabamwita said that there are some challenges in dealing with cybercrimes both domestically and internationally due to the legal loopholes in defining what cybercrimes are.
“We have legal challenges; the laws we have are not helping us to do our job, especially when it comes to rules of procedure and evidence when dealing with cyber terrorists. There is lack of knowledge on the part of policy makers, judiciary and even among ourselves because this is a new domain,” he said.