With Ghana seeking to advance its ‘digital economy’, cybersecurity experts have said that a lot more effort will be required to ensure the country’s readiness to take on the threats that come with digitisation.
At an Internet penetration rate of 35 percent – three million yearly growth since 2015 – in a population of about 29.2 million, it is feared that failure to implement some basic Internet security protocols could deepen the vulnerability levels of many people in cyberspace, including organisations.
For instance, it emerged that about 60 percent of cases reported to the police, as at August 2018, were cyber fraud-related, which caused a loss of some US$97million at the time. Additionally, between 2016 and 2017 alone, about US$104million was lost to cyber fraud.
This development is happening on the back of several cybersecurity challenges identified in the country. Some of these challenges include low level of cyber security awareness; absence of cyber intelligence with its full complements; and the lack of standard digital forensic laboratories, among others.
Director of the Cybercrime Unit of the Ghana Police Service, Chief Superintendent Dr. Herbert Gustav Yankson, observed that based on available cybercrime statistics it is not likely to realise any decrease in cybercrime rates.
He noted that people are easily giving away too much information on the Internet, particularly with the increasing use of technology across the economy’s various sectors. He said anything uploaded to cyberspace can easily be accessed by others, and it could be by people with malicious intent or through unintentionally forwarding details to a wrong recipient.
On the basis of this, he indicated that sextortion cases are also rising – with 10 cases already reported this year. He therefore insisted that things which are not meant for public consumption should be totally kept away from cyberspace.
“The point is that when these cases are reported we are able to take down some of them, but we cannot guarantee who would or would not have already accessed the data,” he said.
He appealed especially for ladies to desist from sharing nude photos with anyone, regardless of whatever circumstances.
Dr. Gustav Yankson also emphasised that there is a need to upscale the readiness to fight cybercrime. This, he said, should not be left to government alone but rather be a collective responsibility.
Dr. Yankson was speaking at a seminar on ‘Security-Related Programmes’, organised by the Institute of Distance Learning (IDL) at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) in Kumasi.
The seminar was put together for students offering MSc Cyber Security & Digital Forensics, MSc Security & Justice Administration, MSc Information Technology, and MSc/MPhil Forensic Science, drawn from all centres across the nation. The seminar’s purpose was to equip students with practical insights into their chosen programme.
The Provost of the College of Humanities and Social Science of KNUST, Prof. Imoro Braimah, lamented that Ghana has gained some notoriety in cybercrime.
According to him, despite the enormous good that comes with rapid changes resulting from emerging technologies, there is also a greater threat through abuse, misuse and misapplication.
“The threat to life and properties; threat to our democracies; threat to the banking sector, are all real. So, forge ahead and explore the potentials of technology for the said good that it does for humanity while trying to protect ourselves and the population against the negative aspects.”