‘Zimbabweans careless online’ internet

Bongani Ndlovu, Chronicle Reporter
ICT experts in Zimbabwe say there is need to train workers and the general public on the dangers of Cyber-attacks as the Covid-19 pandemic has increased the need to work remotely.

This has increased the risk of workplaces and people being hacked by cyber criminals.

The experts’ concerns follow the release of a report by Liquid Intelligent Technologies that said more than 90 percent of IT decision makers in South Africa, Kenya and Zimbabwe have accelerated their cyber security due to emergence of digital ways of working.
The study established that some of the main concerns about cyber security threats and the most significant impact of digital breaches on an organisational level include data extortion, data leakage and data disclosure.

Data extortion, data leakage and data disclosure constitute almost 71 percent of the cyber attacks for Kenyan businesses and more than 70 percent of South African and Zimbabwean organisations consider email attacks like Phishing the most prominent digital threat.

An ICT expert, Mr Robert Ndlovu who is the founder and CTO of Wozatel which specialises in cyber security, VoIP and e-Learning said the best thing is for companies and people to be educated about these dangers.

“A remote workforce comes with a myriad of dangers, with employees relying on their home networks — and sometimes their own devices to work. Most people are pretty careless online as seen by how much info they share on social media and also fall prey to phishing where in most cases they are lured to click on links that promise them free data or employment opportunities,” said Mr Ndlovu.

He said it was a must for all companies to have robust cyber security systems in place.

“These phishing initiatives open doors to the would-be hacker to push malware to the end user device. Unless companies enforce cyber hygiene on all devices that employees use to access the web, companies are exposed to all sorts of dangers. As you know a chain is as strong as the weakest link. So, the remote worker could be that weak link,” said Mr Ndlovu.

Mrs Victoria Nxumalo, Founder and Executive Director of Girls in STEM Trust said companies must upskill their workforce so that they do not fall victim to cyber crime.

“The issues entailed in the report are both pertinent and relevant given the rapid shift towards virtual platforms for business and regular day-to-day activities. Without a shadow of doubt, Covid-19 has accelerated the adoption of virtual spaces to create some semblance of normalcy in conducting business and everyday life,” said Mrs Nxumalo.

“However, this is not without its challenges as virtual spaces have now become a haven for cyber crime and we are seeing an upsurge in the number of security breaches on various platforms. It is essential for businesses to invest in robust Cyber Security systems while upskilling and conscientising the workforce on the fundamentals of Cyber Security to prevent security breaches.”

Computer Society of Zimbabwe Bulawayo chapter President Mr Percy Sibanda said the report was relevant and there is a need for Cyber  Security education from the grassroots.

“The report calls for action in terms of a legislative framework to tackle this growing risk/crime. There is need to align our curriculum to deal with this threat at all levels and spheres of life. There should be a commissioning body that looks and tracks this.

The Liquid report is a good start. It is essential that a body of knowledge be established to track incidents and criminals alike. The report is a welcome initiative. The focus on the three countries is most relevant,” said Mr Sibanda.

The report comes at a time when Cyber Security and Data Protection Bill, which seeks to punish those who abuse the social media, internet and communication networks and make the growing financial digital systems and e-commerce more efficient and better protected, has gone through Parliament and now awaits the assent of the President.

Government and ICT experts have welcomed the passage of the Bill, saying it will go a long way in curbing cybercrimes.

In particular, it brings together the laws for the necessary protection of personal and commercial data and puts in place the growing body of international standards to prevent cybercrime.

In explaining the objective of the Bill in Parliament, Information Communication Technology, Postal and Courier Services Minister Jenfan Muswere said it seeks to see the evolution of criminal law to take into account fast-evolving technologies and curb the abuse of networks and the internet. — Follow on Twitter @bonganinkunzi.

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