Fighting back against cybercrime.

Author:Matthews, Chris

Cybercrime is on the increase, but so are initiatives designed to fight it. From awareness-raising among professionals to the enactment of new laws, measures are being taken across Africa to promote cyber-security.

The phishing attempts happen frequently. A text message purporting to be from a major mobile payment firm will come through to Laura Tich's mobile encouraging her to transfer funds.

"It happens every week," says the co-founder of Kenyan collective SheHacks. "In Kenya mobile money frauds are more common because it is so widely used."

As internet and mobile penetration rates soar across Africa and processes become digitised, cyber threats are multiplying. A June report from Kenyan IT services firm Serianu claims African businesses lost $3-5bn to cyberattacks in 2017 with the financial, government and SME sectors in the crosshairs of hackers. The report claims around 90% of organisations surveyed are "operating below the security poverty line, significantly exposing themselves to cyber-security threats".

"With this larger attack vector, organisations will be targeted more aggressively," says Drew van Vuuren of cyber-security firm ESET South Africa. "More sophisticated attacks will be deployed by hacking collectives ... as they become aware of the increased internet footprint in the region."

With mobile subscriptions topping 444m in sub-Saharan Africa according to GSMA Intelligence and internet penetration rates around 35%, hackers are on the lookout for vulnerabilities.

Tire Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps was hacked in 2017 and overrun with fake job postings, electronic fraud led to the Kenya Revenue Authority losing $39111, and reports in Rwanda point to tens of thousands of attempted network attacks in the financial sector last year. Be it phishing schemes, ransomware, fraud or insider threats, the risks are vast.

"There is a belief that a lot of cyber threat actors emerge from Nigeria; [but] there are quite a good number of more sophisticated threat actors from China and Russia operating on a global scale and targeting countries including Nigeria," says Rotimi Akinyele, a security consultant and founder of the Nigeria Cybersecurity Conference.

Raising awareness

Keen to raise awareness among businesses and locals, Akinyele and Nurudeen Odeshina, a cybersecurity manager at PwC, formed a group with peers in Nigeria and the diaspora to share knowledge on evolving threats.

"We have actors not only trying to exploit...

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