Law enforcement officers from Namibia, Botswana, Malawi, Mozambique, Seychelles, Swaziland and Zambia yesterday gathered in Windhoek to share ideas and strengthen Southern Africa’s cyber securities policies.
The three-day workshop, organised by the United States Department of Justice, is to focus on techniques for using cyber tools and methods to investigate crime, as well as how to collect and analyse digital evidence.
Additionally, participants will explore some of the legal and procedural issues related to using electronic evidence in criminal proceeding. In her opening remarks, US Ambassador to Namibia, Lisa Johnson, said technology helps nations innovate, and facilitate the growth of their economies and connects people to their loved ones with more ease than ever before.
Indeed, she said, cellphones, computers and the internet are important forces for positive change and development throughout the entire world. However, she said, they can also be abused.
“When used for criminal enterprise, technology can facilitate the commission of crime, whether it be new ways to perpetrate fraud or easier methods to invade citizen’s privacy,” she said.
“Technology can be used in almost any crime, from homicide to fraud, often leaving behind a digital trail of evidence,” she added.
She said unfortunately, electronic evidence is fragile and can perish, even unintentionally.
For example, she said, businesses routinely delete computer data in the course of normal activities.
“Electronic evidence can be lost at the touch of a single key, or even just turning off a computer or cellphone,” she said.
Consequently, Johnson said, effective tools and techniques for capturing electronic evidence are vital to law enforcement in the 21st Century. “Cyber investigation cannot be effective without international cooperation. Investigating cybercrime and collecting electronic evidence are, by their very natures, transnational activities,” she said.
She said electronic devices and the World Wide Web have created a truly global economy and enables global communication on a scale never seen before.
“We shall stand to benefit from this new era of easy global commerce and communication.”
Nonetheless, she added, because cellphones, computers and the internet traverse every country, so too can criminals.
Speaking at the same occasion, Minister of Justice, Sackeus Shangala, said indeed cellphones, computers and the internet are important forces for positive change and development throughout the world. He said conducting effective cybercrime investigations is in all countries’ national interest.
“Successful prosecutions of those who commit cybercrimes can ensure that emerging technologies remain secure and trusted.”
Shangala says “we need to protect both those who build and those who use cellphones, computers and the internet if we are to continue to foster innovation and creativity, safeguard consumers, and drive economic growth.”
Countries in Southern Africa are experiencing significant increases in crime involving computers and the internet, damaging their economies and security. The global reach of the internet enables individual criminals, criminal organisations and terrorists located anywhere in the world to use computers to harm society, businesses and the security of these countries.