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Business News of Thursday, 21 February 2019

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Government of Ghana step up nationwide cybersecurity efforts

Cybercrimes has cost Ghana $230 million in less than 2-years Cybercrimes has cost Ghana $230 million in less than 2-years

Cybercrime is costing governments and organizations across the world million in damages every year. With ransomware on the rise and hacker attacks becoming more and more sophisticated, Ghana has resolved to become one of the leading countries in this fight by implementing a series of new institutional and legislative measures.

Hackers cost Ghana $230 million in less than two-years

According to recent research, the activities of cybercriminals have had a devastating impact on Ghana’s economy in the past couple of years. The Cybercrime Unit within the Ghana Police Services has released details of how cybercrime has cost the country roughly $230 million in the period from 2016 to August 2018.

In 2016 alone, the damages rose to over $35 million, while in 2017 this almost doubled to reach more than $69 million. Bank losses rose to 40% of that amount, or $28 million, proving that large financial institutions are a consistent target for hackers looking for ways to steal money.

In the period leading from the start of 2018 to August of the same year, when the report was made public, $97 million was already lost, according to the cases reported to the unit. This demonstrates that while the government is taking measures to increase cybersecurity awareness, the public’s defenses still lag behind. As the police explained, 60% out of the total number of the cases examined in their research were related to fraud.

The main objective of hackers is to get their hands on sensitive information in order to use it to further their criminal objectives – steal money, commit identity theft or launch further attacks. That is why more and more organizations are investing in data security looking to uncover hidden risks in rogue databases and classify sensitive data in order to implement the appropriate security measures.

Government implements cybersecurity initiatives

Against this landscape, the government has decided to take measures to play their part in increasing our vigilance and the capacity for an institutional response against cybercriminals. Last October was designated as National Cyber Security Awareness Month by the Ministry of Communications, implementing a nationwide campaign titled “A Safer Digital Ghana” – as part of which the Cybercrime Unit released its report on the state of play in the country.

Implementing its longstanding goal of digital safety, the Ministry has also established an administrative hub that will coordinate cybersecurity efforts across the public and the private sectors, the National Cyber Security Centre.

The World Bank and the internal National Communications Authority also played a pivotal role in setting up the Centre. The government is focusing its efforts on protecting the financial sector and has recently launched a Cyber and Information Security Directive in cooperation with the bank of Ghana and the National Association of Bankers.

It has also managed to accede to two seminal international cybersecurity instruments, the Budapest Convention against Cybercrime and the Malabo Convention on Cyber Security and Personal Data Protection.

Recently, Ms. Owusu-Ekuful, the Communications Minister, has announced that the Ministry is also currently developing a law that will serve to improve Ghana’s cybersecurity landscape as a whole.

It seems that the government is taking concrete steps to improve the institutional framework in the fight against cybercrime. The question now is whether the private sector is also ready to invest more resources into fending off hackers and beefing up the industry’s cybersecurity mechanisms.