After learning more about cyber security and cyber hacking in class on Tuesday, I began thinking more about the impact that these two things could have on the developing world and projects implemented in the developing world. The presentation in class focused in cyber attacks and specific viruses and malware that have been used against the United States and other countries. It also touched on the implications cyber-warfare can have on the developing world, including human rights issues with spying on citizens and also the vulnerabilities that arise specifically in developing countries.
Hacking is “big business”, and digital currencies used in developing countries are especially vulnerable to being hacked. Another blog post touched on the helpfulness and innovation of M-Pesa, a service used in Kenya to transfer money via SMS in order to pay for goods and services. I was interested to see exactly how M-Pesa is affected by cyber hacking. I found this article detailing some downsides to M-Pesa due to phone phreaking (phone hacking). Hackers will spoof the caller ID, using the number of a bank. Users of the mobile money services then are tricked into giving the “financial institution” their information, and money is extracted from their bank accounts. It is estimated that US $13,000/month is stolen using this hacking technique. I assume this problem will only get worse with time as technologies become more and more sophisticated.