The government has launched a countrywide campaign to sensitise Rwandans about cyber crimes, cyber security and how to detect and report them.
The campaign, dubbed “Stay Safe Online,” is meant to address the growing concerns on cyber crime as more Rwandans continue to embrace information and communication technology (ICT).
It was launched on Sunday and will be carried out by the Ministry Youth and ICT, Rwanda Development Board, and the Rwanda National Police’s department of intelligence.
The campaign comes at a time when the country is experiencing a high rate of Internet adoption, with more Rwandans incorporating internet use in several aspects, including financial services, business transactions, and data management, among other services.
Cyber attacks to specific sectors such as mobile money transfer can be disastrous to the national economy. Last year, the sector had more than 104 million transactions worth over Rwf691 billion.
The Ministry of Youth and ICT placed Internet adoption rate at 25 per cent and is expected to grow further as more government services are availed online while there are also high expectations from recent advances into 4G LTE Internet technology.
Youth and ICT minister Jean Philbert Nsengimana said ICT is simplifying lives and providing an avenue to do things fast and efficiently but at the same time global technology trends indicated that cyber crime was on the rise with government and private companies being key targets.
The minister added that the government was committed to fighting cyber crime in the country and ensuring that Rwandans were safe but at the same time urged them to be vigilant and take preventive measures such as secure passwords.
Nsengimana further urged Internet users to collect information of the various online services they were subscribing to as well as pick interest in learning on how to fight cyber crime.
Defining the scope of cyber crime, Charles Mugisha, the head of cyber security at the Rwanda Development Board, explained that hackers include anyone who seeks to exploit weaknesses in a computer system or computer network for various reasons.
“A hacker is someone who seeks and exploits weaknesses in a computer system or network for malicious reasons such as profit,” Mugisha said.
Highlighting the need of the campaign, the Rwanda Utilities Regulatory Authority director-general, Patrick Nyirishema, said the majority of citizens were still unaware of cyber crime and the threats it posed.
He noted that the sensitisation initiative was important as the country is currently embarking on becoming a hub for ICT services in the region.
“Few Rwandans are aware of cyber crimes and the threats they pose, that is why we are emphasising on raising awareness and sensitisation on how the public can protect themselves from cyber crimes,” Nyirashema noted.
Commissioner of Police John Bosco Kabera, the head of communication and information services, said there was already a framework for prosecution of cyber crimes in the Rwanda Penal Code.
He added that the police had also forged a partnership with the International Police (Interpol) to fight the vice.
Among the sectors most targeted by cyber attacks is the banking sector whereby the Rwanda National Police also has a financial Intelligence Unit attached to National Bank of Rwanda, that investigates financial and cyber crimes in banks.