Over the past few weeks we have discussed many new tools and programs designed to put more governmental information online to streamline processes. These programs have the potential to simplify and aid in development but they also come with their own set of problems. Cybersecurity is one of the most important issues of the new millennium.
The ITU has released an entire report about how developing nations need to upgrade their cyber-infrastructure. As these nations begin to put more and more governmental, financial, and secret data on to computer systems hackers and cyber-criminals have opportunities to steal this information. High profile attacks like on the Saudi Arabian oil company Arramco which affected more than 30,000 computers could be devastating to a developing nation. Cyber criminals can target government owned systems to steal data or digital currencies like M-Pesa to steal money from 1000s of miles away.
The ITU has released guidelines for developing nations to improve their security. Some of their recommendations include training the weakest part of the cybersecurity system, the user. The same skills gap that holds developing countries back in terms of digital knowledge also makes their existing systems more venerable to cyber threats. Inexperienced computer users are not worried about cyber threats and can take risky actions online. Poorly trained government workers can easily compromise sensitive government systems and allow hackers and other cybercriminals access to governmental data.
Over the next few years the success of eGovernment and eCurrency programs will be determined by the level of security they can provide for users. If developing countries cannot train their population to safely use technology many of the advances that technology can provide will be lost due to compromised security problems. Technology can help to improve the lives of people living in developing nations but if their governments do not invest in security infrastructure for their networks the same technologies that can help them develop can make them venerable to crime and cyberwarfare.
In this week’s lecture by Ralph Russo and previous discussion about cyber security I was intrigued about the extent of cyber security protocols and standards that are present in Uganda. From my research on ICTs in the business and industry sector in Uganda I was aware that security for both the companies and the consumer was an issue. The above video gives a wonderful overview of the effects of cyber crime on businesses, with losses ranging in the billions of shillings (1 USD to 2,160 USH), and that NITA-U has set up a task force to create safe e-commerce networks.
NITA-U isn’t the only task force on the cyber security scene though. A February All Africa article shares that the Computer Warehouse Group (CWG) partnered with Symantec in order to provide security storage and management solutions to one of Africa’s fastest growing telecommunications companies. But its not just the private sector that is standing up against cyber crime. In a 2013 article from IT News Africa the Ugandan government also established a Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT) under the country’s Communications Commission (UCC) in order to more effectively detect cyber crime. CERT is equipped with state of the art equipment and IT experts that will aid in the continuos and growing battle against cyber crime in conjunction with the International Telecommunication Union (ITU).
With the pace that technology is evolving it seems like an immeasurable feat to keep up with the high rates of cyber crime and as Ralph Russo shared with us it is important to keep connections with those entities attempting to put a stop to cyber crime. As seen in examples above Uganda is creating a firm platform, consisting of both public and private organizations, aimed to stop cyber crime and create a more secure environment for businesses to grow and thrive.
After the presentation on Thursday I was left wondering about how much attention countries around the world, particularly my own country Mexico, paid to cyber security threats. I was shocked to find out that on a report titled Cyber-security: The Vexed Question of Global Rules which ranks how effective is the government’s response to cyber security in 23 countries threats Mexico was ranked last with a score of 2 out of 5.
According to the report the weakness in Mexico’s cyber attack defenses is that there are currently no special rules to combar cyber-crime. Instead, they utilize the current legal framework to address cyber crimes. This presents a problem as the existing legislature is not broad enough to cover new threats and thus is not adequate to counter cyber crime attacks.
Personally, I believe that Mexico should take cyber threats more seriously especially after the government was a target of cyber attacks in 2011 . For Mexico to address the issue seriously there should be special legal mechanisms to counter cyber-threats in the fashion of countries that rank higher such as Israel.
Technological advances have given rise to an entirely new, yet equally as threatening form of combat- cyber warfare. Both developed and developing countries worldwide are now faced with the issue of cyber security. While a number of multi-national agreements and initiatives are in motion to help resolve cyber attacks, world governments need to begin to look internally in order to find the source of these crimes. One such government that should be shifting to this focus is that of Brazil, since this Latin American nation is currently at the forefront of cyber security issues.
While ICTs have helped Brazil climb the economic ranks over the past decade, surpassing the U.K. as the sixth best economy in the world, the country has paid little to no attention to ensuring the proper laws and regulations are in place in order to facilitate further ICT development. For example, there is a serious lack of privacy protection for any data being sent over the nation’s networks due to there being no privacy legislation in place. In addition to having no privacy legislation, Brazil also has not implemented any legislation addressing cybercrime. Any cyber laws that Brazil does have are either outdated or in conflict with international standards. According to an article on foreignpolicydigest.org, in Brazil, “Six in ten computers in the country are attacked with viruses and malware.” (http://goo.gl/5w8Pz) Furthermore, the article describes an analysis that found that resolving the average cyber attack on an individual in Brazil not only costs an average of $1,408 U.S. dollars, but also takes 44 days to fix.
This is unsurprising, seeing as how Brazil also has gaps in intellectual property protection. Not only has Brazil not updated its copyright laws to protect newer technologies, but it also has not signed the WIpo copyright treaty. Due to these types of serious gaps in their cyber security infrastructure, Brazil experiences widespread online piracy as well. The Foreign Policy Digest article also makes reference to the fact that Brazil will be hosting the 2 largest international sporting events in thw world in the coming years- The World Cup and The Olympics. With a huge influx of high-profile individuals coming into the nation, and likely transferring important information over their network, Brazil would be wise to begin beefing up their cyber security efforts.