Cybercrime: a complex problem requiring a multi-faceted response

2014-03-26

The Internet and mobile technologies have revolutionised the way in which businesses, government and the public are able to interact. Criminal actors have, however, also taken advantage of these developments. With the cost of malicious cyber activity to the global economy estimated to be as high as US$1 trillion, African policymakers need a cogent response to cybercrime. This requires a clear understanding of emerging threats, their impact on the population and how other countries have successfully structured strategies in response.

From the outset, the seminar highlighted that countries must develop a culture of cybersecurity and that strategies should be innovative to stay abreast of developments in this fast-changing environment.

The seminar assessed policy efforts at international, regional and national levels relating to cybercrime, and drew relevant lessons from the frameworks that are used in Europe, India, the United States and the United Kingdom. It was noted that the draft African Union (AU) convention on cybersecurity is groundbreaking and that once adopted, it would provide a comprehensive framework. The convention provides a broad definition of cybercrime and places obligations on states to adopt policies and frameworks to ensure cybersecutiy.

The convention also emphasises the importance of international cooperation and underscores the necessity of harmonised legislation and bears some similarities to the Council of Europe’s Cybercrime Convention. Mauritius is the only African country that is party to the Council of Europe’s Cybercrime Convention. South Africa has signed but not yet ratified the convention.

Several African countries have laws dedicated to combatting cybercrime, with some constantly working towards advancing their responses to this global threat. Countries must ensure that these responses are grounded in a national strategy and policy framework that are supported by a comprehensive architecture for a more secure cyberspace. This architecture must include:

As the threat of cybercrime increases with the development of telecommunications and other means of engaging in cyberspace, it is critical for governments to strengthen their architecture to secure cyberspace.

The speakers at the seminar were:

Ottilia Anna Maunganidze from the Transnational Threats and International Crime Division chaired the seminar.

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