The cybersecurity landscape is constantly evolving, with new threats emerging all the time. This is especially true in Namibia, which is a rapidly developing country with a growing digital economy.
“As more and more businesses and individuals in Namibia rely on technology, it is important to be aware of the cybersecurity risks, and to take steps to mitigate them. Cybersecurity issues are rising in Namibia, including phishing, malware and data breaches. In 2022, Namibia faced a 40% increase in reported cyberattacks,” observed Kamal Tour, acting head of cybercrime programmes in Africa for the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crimes (UNODC).
Tour was speaking at the seventh national information and communication technology (ICT) summit yesterday. The objective of the three-day event, which kicked off on Monday and is expected to conclude today, is to provide the ICT industry an avenue to discuss current trends and issues they are facing, both locally and globally.
A cyberattack can be explained as any action taken by a cybercriminal to illegally gain control of a computer, device, network, or system with malicious intent. Cybercriminals may damage, destroy, steal, encrypt, expose or leak data as well as cause harm to a system.
Tour added that without a robust legal framework, authorities will be a bit confused when faced with the scenario of having to prosecute those crimes. Also, he highlighted that cybercrime is a technological crime and to fight it, one will need technology, equipment, resources and financial support.
“So, the country needs to have all mentioned in place. When not in place, the risk of cybercrime rising is more prevalent,” he added.
Touching on the effects, Tour said it goes beyond just data protection, as it can even lead to suicide through online sexual abuse. Many countries already lost digital trust because there were many cyber-criminals from those countries. Other losses include financial losses, especially for the local economy.
“But it’s not only financial losses, as sometimes it’s also mental wellbeing, especially when children are attacked at the level of trauma that generates when a child is a victim of online sexual abuse. At times, some of those children have committed suicide, and those who are now grown up become broken adults who cannot be functional members of society,” he stated.
To fight cyberattacks, Tour called on public-private partnerships, and for countries to share experiences and help one another.
On response techniques, he advised Namibia to have cybercrime policies and legislative frameworks in place.
Elton Witbooi, executive for cybersecurity and ICT at the Communications Regulatory Authority of Namibia (Cran), informed the conference on Monday that Namibia’s weak cybersecurity measures make it susceptible to cybercrimes.
He said Namibia does poorly on indicators related to law, technology, organisation, capacity development and cooperation.
Witbooi added that the reason for the poor rating is the absence of a legal framework that governs cybersecurity because the Bill is currently up for expert discussions, and still has to be passed.
Speaking recently at the 2023 Digital Government Africa Summit in Zambia, the information ministry’s executive director Audrin Mathe noted that Namibia recorded 2.7 million cyber-attacks in 2022 alone, which is a big number for a country with such a small population.
This ministry is now working towards ensuring cyber-resilient policies and the security of online platforms.
The envisaged passing of the Data Protection Bill and Cyber Crime Bill, National Cyber Security Strategy, and the full operationalisation of the Electronic Transaction Act (2019) are part of efforts by the ICT ministry to ensure groundwork for the realisation of a digitalised government service.