Cyber security professionals: Botswana’s headache

Botswana needs to train more personnel in the area of cyber security if the country is to eliminate cyber risk. The 1st edition of the Botswana Cyber Security Report estimates that Botswana needs at least 1,000 cyber security professionals a year to keep abreast with the number of organisations in need of this critical skill, yet only around  20-30 new personnel join the market each year.

With too few professionals in this area, Botswana has seen efforts from both international and local efforts in trying to bridge the gap and as recently as 2014, the United States Department of State and the United States Department of Justice held a Southern African regional Cybersecurity and cybercrime workshop for Batswana ICT practitioners. 

The recent 5th Annual African Cyber Crime Conference said the losses by governments, individual companies and corporations was a staggering figure that affected the lives of many people. The theme of the two day conference was Prepare, Prevent, Protect and Prosecute and is apt in as far as Botswana is doing currently with those found on the wrong side of the cyber wall.  

The Kenyan High Commission to Botswana and a special representative to SADC Mohamed Shidiye, who was the guest speaker, noted the anomaly in the manpower to fight cyber security. The High Commissioner expressed regret that many institutions like banks were always not prepared to talk about their losses that resulted from cyber attacks for fear of losing customers if their losses were made public. 

“The bank is built on confidence and stability, therefore it can be fragile if the information is leaked to the public that the bank was hacked and some money were stolen. So most banks suffer in silence about cyber threats issues,” he lamented.      

The occasion was also used to launch the Cybercrime Report 2018 in which platform a speaker suggested that Botswana should grow its population of trained cyber-security professionals. “To fight cyber crime you require adequate professional personnel.”

However, Chris Johnson, the Botswana Africa Cyber Security managing director, said Botswana was ready to put into practice the lessons learnt from the experiences of other countries to avoid going through similar experiences. 

In other cyber crime deliberations, Dr. Ezekiel Okike from the University of Botswana’s Department of Computer Science, said business and government institutions can lose billions of dollars every year to computer criminals. Many computer crimes are probably committed by company insiders and to avoid embarrassment many companies cover up computer crime committed by their own employees like the cashiers, clerks, programmers, managers. The typical computer criminal could be a trusted employee or former employee, he said. 

Eric Tamrkin, from The Institute for Security Studies said “Given the report that Africa is becoming cybercrime safe harbour, the problem could hamper economic growth, foreign investment and security. Policy makers need a cogent response to cybercrime which is informed by a clear understanding of emerging threats and how other countries have formed strategies in response; countries on the continent should adopt a multi-layered approach”

The Cybercrime and Computer Related Crimes Act came into force on 28 December 2007. Cyber crime by its nature knows no boundaries and may collapse the economy of any country. The Cybercrime Act, deals with crime perpetrated through computer systems and covers unauthorised access to a computer or computer system, unauthorised interference with data, accessing computer system with intent to commit an offence, and generally deals with cyber fraud. The Act has been identified for review as a priority under phase 1 of the e-legislation programme of the Government of Botswana. 


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