Consumers are the major victims of cyber attacks

SHARE   |   Sunday, 29 March 2015   |   By Phuthego Chere

*Phuthego Chere
Last week’s cyber security summit was a success looking at the attendance versus security awareness barometer. The biggest challenge we faced was that in Botswana, most IT professionals, even for big Organization across sectors doesn’t see cyber security as a major concern. I spoke to an IT manager at one of the country leading mobile network operator and he frankly told me that he doesn’t see cyber security as a concern for his organization and he doesn’t see a reason why he should attend the summit. I realized that we are a long way to go and decided to dedicate the first few weeks of this column to basic education on the various types of cyber-crime. It is important to understand that consumers or citizens are the major victims of cyber-crime, not necessarily enterprises, especially in a country like Botswana where we don’t have a cyber-security policy. The keyword here is information or data breach. A data breach is the intentional or unintentional release of secure information to an untrusted environment or persons. Every day consumers go to government offices, banks, utility companies, telecommunications companies and many other service providers. They are normally asked to complete forms that capture their personal information to the last details, including where you live. Now cyber criminals are looking for this information and they can get it from these service providers’ networks. The most valuable commodity today is not diamond, it is data or information.  Cyber criminals get paid a lot of money for personal information stolen in networks of government and companies across all sectors. I will introduce you to a type of cyber-crime called economic espionage. Economic cyber espionage aims to gain an economic advantage for the cyber-criminal, typically a nation-state. Imagine when your competitor, a company or other nations possesses your trade secrets, including your sensitive financial information and economic policy information?  They will obviously have a competitive advantage against you. Now what is happening is that your personal information is out there for sale and Organizations where this information was stolen may not even be aware of the breach. Economic espionage attacks affect big organizations and government systems. That’s the reason why most IT professionals don’t see cyber security as a concern because their work is not directly affected. It’s the consumer who pays. The other type of cybercrime is organized crime, where the criminals use information stolen for financial gain. This type of crime is where criminals want to steal your banking or credit card details to eat up your money. It is the most common type and it affects the banking sector. The last type of attack is called nuisance threats and hactivists. These attacks interfere with daily business operations or defame web properties and make political statements. They can affect your organizations productivity and it is the reason why you always have system downtime. Now the big question is how can you know that the information your give to these service providers is protected? How safe is the information stored in government systems and service provider’s networks? Now take that question to parliament and you will know that consumers or citizens are the major victims of cyber-crime. The answer to the question IS BOTSWANA READY FOR ATTACKS is that we are not even close to safe and secure nation as far as cyber security is concerned. So at least for now re beile mo modimong. I will however provide more advise in future articles.

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