Namibia a top African destination for cyber criminals

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Garth Kleintjies the chief information officer of FNB Namibia

Windhoek

“Namibia might be a small country known to only a few internationally but we have become a popular destination for cyber criminals to practise their trade. Sadly, by the end of December 2015 we were identified as the top African destination for cyber criminals by

Check Point Software Technologies,” says Garth Kleintjies, the chief information officer of FNB Namibia.
He explains that cyber crime is defined as any criminal activity that is done using a computer or which originates from the internet.

“Cyber criminals usually aim at either stealing information, money and/ or defaming their victims.” Kleintjies adds that many people are surprised that Namibia is targeted.

He elaborated: “Well, it is as simple as the fact that we have a very good communications network and are well provisioned with internet services. This allows criminals access and a way for them to move information and money out of the country. Another reason is that our thriving banking sector with multiple points of presence throughout the country and internationally via ATM networks offers opportunity. Further, we have inadequate laws that focus on dealing with and bringing cyber criminals to justice. We also have limited capability of pro-actively monitoring and preventing such attacks as this requires huge investments in security infrastructure and systems.”

Kleintjies deduces that Namibia is an alluring destination for cyber criminals given the attractive operating conditions.
He advises: “If we want to turn things around and deal more effectively with cyber crime it will require a collective effort as a nation. Thus, there is an onus on government, corporates, business and consumers or individuals when it comes to cyber crime.”

Regarding government’s involvement, he says it will have to play its part in providing laws that deal specifically with cyber criminal activity; ensure capability to enforce and apply these laws; develop capacity for specialist skills and reduce the time it takes to bring cyber criminals to justice.

“Joint agreements with other governments will have to be put in place as cyber criminals operate without borders and this in itself is the biggest challenge in bringing them to justice. Government has realized this and is in the process of drafting and having the electronic communications, data privacy and cyber crime bill tabled for approval in parliament. This is a step in the right direction and we know the government is aware of the reputational risk. The challenge is the time it takes for bills to be approved as this has been ongoing for a few years now and we remain unsure when this will be approved.”

When looking at corporates and businesses Kleintjies suggests they also have big roles to fulfil in cyber crime space as they have to ensure data privacy and security of their customers, clients and partners.

Data as can be seen in the global media is actively leaked into the public space and this impacts directly on the credibility and reputation of firms, individuals and governments.

In addition, data leakage and theft can open corporates and businesses to liability suits by third parties.
“In the financial services space and where banking services are rendered these service providers need to create awareness among clients and educate customers on what they would communicate or expect to receive as communication from them, and what to guard against.”

He says that FNB Namibia Holdings would continue to warn against spam mails, trojans, card fraud and many more types of attacks.
“This will help us avoid cyber criminals from obtaining our client information and gaining access to transactional systems through phishing and malware.”

In the individual as well as in the corporate and governmental space ransomware attacks have been on the increase and are accelerating globally. This is a type of malware that attempts to extort money from a computer user by infecting or taking control of a victim’s computer or the files or documents stored on it.

Typically, the ransomware will either lock the computer or disable user access to prevent normal usage or encrypt the documents and files to prevent access to the saved data and as a result it prevents the user from accessing files.

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