Rwanda intensifies war on cybercrime

Minister Ingabire speaks on a panel during the Regional Cloud and Security Summit in Kigali last week. Courtesy.

As technological advances continue to gather momentum, Rwanda is keen to protect consumers from falling prey to cyber criminals.

This was one of the major highlights during last week’s Cloud and Security Summit in Kigali where IT leaders met as they sought for a sustainable response to the growing threat of cybercrime.

Cybercrime is committed using the internet such as to steal a person’s identity or sell contraband, or stalk victims or disrupt operations with malicious programmes.

Rwanda is keen on strengthening its ability to combat cyber security threats through, among other approaches, sensitising citizens on internet security threats by facilitating them to recognise cyber security threats and how they can respond to them appropriately.

With cybercriminals having stolen Rwf289.5 million in 22 separate incidences in 2018, according to Central Bank data, there’s need for the country to tighten its cyber security at different levels.

The Minister for ICT Paula Ingabire, said that cybercrime cases including patient data and financial data theft have far-reaching consequences on the victims such as reputation damage and financial loss.

Particularly, reputation damage can also create mistrust against companies that want to build customer relationships, she added.

“It is really very clear to all of us that these emerging technologies are going exacerbate cyber risks and we need to start thinking very, very quickly of how to mitigate and respond to this,” the Minister said.

Cybercrime costs the world $600 billion or 0.8 percent of global Gross Domestic Product (GDP), according to the 2018 report by the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) and McAfee – an American global computer security software company.

“We need to put in place strategies that ensure that all stakeholders across the entire ecosystem work together to address some of these challenges,” Ingabire said.

Innocent Muhizi, the Chief Executive Officer of Rwanda Information Society Authority (RISA), said that cyber security breaches or attacks are real, citing computer viruses that disrupt the operations of various institutions.

“There are also hackers who might intrude systems. But, because we have set up measures, there are those we detect – estimated at between 20 and 50 per day – as they attempt to enter different systems,” he disclosed.

In some organisation, he said, systems need to be protected with updated antiviruses, and the systems themselves have to be updated on a regular basis.

“We have to be able to train not only users but also practitioners that are going to be our cyber-defendants, and this is something that we are doing as an organisation championing that, and sensitising and trying to partner with industry practitioners, academia, and other people to be able to enhance skills of our workforce to be able to protect our cyberspace,” he indicated.

Laura Chite, the Chef Executive Officer of CIO East Africa, a regional ICT firm says that there’s a need to put systems in place that will track cyber-attackers.

“When innovators and developers come up with technology products, they must push them out to be tested by security experts who will check how vulnerable a product is and give them advice on where security issue be placed in that product, before being rolled out,” she said.

Rwanda is implementing a National Cyber Security Awareness Programme.

editor@newtimesrwanda.com

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