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IS BOTSWANA READY FOR CYBER ATTACKS?

SHARE   |   Sunday, 08 March 2015   |   By Phuthego Chere

As of late, there has been a buzz about cyber security and sporadic cyber-attacks locally and internationally, Sony pictures being one of the biggest of these new attacks. I discovered that many people here in Botswana do not really understand what is it or the impact of these cyber-attacks.  However there are many cases where people lost their money in their bank accounts due to security or information technology breach. These breaches often happen undetected and many people are not even aware that their identities or email passwords have been stolen. Well let’s start from the basics and define what cyber security is.  I am a technology guy with interest in cyber law and policy and I will deliberately use the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) definition.  Cyber security is the collection of tools, policies, security concepts, security safeguards, guidelines, risk management approaches, actions, training, best practices, assurance and technologies that can be used to protect the cyber environment and organization and user’s assets. The reason I use this definition is to show you that cyber security is not just an IT thing but a phenomenon which affects everybody, anytime.  Internet penetration is on the rise, driven by popularity of social media and new internet products such as online banking, bill payments and even e-government, to name a few. We are living in a connected world where information is shared through organizations and consumers, and even between consumers. This means that everybody is now at risk.  So what? The impact can be more than just your money or identity being stolen, but attacks can also affect the national economies.  This means that cyber security is a big concern for government, the private sector and consumers. Now let’s get back to the big question; is Botswana Ready for Cyber Attacks? Well the answer is Yes and No, at least for now. There is a cyber-security and internet summit scheduled for March 19, 2015 at the G.I.C.C. I believe I would be in a position to answer that question after the summit. The summit’s objective is to provide answers to the big question. The message I want to put across here is that cyber security need concerted effort from government, the private sector and the end users or consumers. It should be a shared mission and it needs active public private partnerships. Now let’s start that by approaching cyber security at national level. The question for starters is what are our security agencies or government doing to protect national interests against cyber-attacks? We will answer these questions in our next features. But let me conclude by highlighting that the sheer complexity of IT systems and human nature means that intrusions may be all but certain for every organization. Therefore cyber security needs a concerted effort by government and the private sector, as well as end users. The upcoming annual summit is going to provide actionable solutions and provide for a secure cyber space.



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