EDITORIAL: Fighting cyber crime needs all hands on deck

Rwanda has experienced exponential growth in internet usage over the past few years, presenting the country with immense opportunities.

Rwanda has experienced exponential growth in internet usage over the past few years, presenting the country with immense opportunities.

Banks have been able to extend services to remote areas, as well as introduce new platforms like internet banking to ease access to financial services. The number of online markets is also growing, selling a varied number of products and services to the over 3.1 million Rwandans who have access to the Internet.

However, these opportunities have not come without risks. Fraudsters are on the prowl, waiting to pounce and cheat unsuspecting Internet users. Therefore, ensuring that the millions of users are safe online is of paramount importance for Rwandans to fully tap the potential the Internet presents.

That’s why the Rwanda National Police and the Youth and ICT ministry should be commended for coming up with a drive to sensitise users about the risks thereon.

The “Stay Safe Online” campaign comes at a time when Internet crimes are on the rise, with cyber fraudsters targeting individuals and institutions. In fact, last year local banks and business people lost millions to hackers.

The problem is also increasing in the region, with cyber crime ranked as one of the top five types of economic fraud in East Africa by PricewaterhouseCoopers in its recent report. This is a worrying situation that should give stakeholders and security agencies sleepless nights to find a solution.

The situation is compounded by the fact that crooks are using social media like Facebook to commit other crimes like inciting violence and human trafficking, according to KPMG’s The State of African Cyber crime 2014” report.

So, the time for action is now, and it calls for the involvement of us all to help stem the growth of the vice. So beware, that virtual friend on Facebook could be a fraudster or human trafficker, making the “Stay Safe Online” campaign a great intervention that will hopefully enlighten Rwandans to stay clear of these dangers online.

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