GLOBALISATION has made the world look like a small village. It has facilitated communication and social interaction and at the same time it has made people be more innovative and creative.
Information communication technology (ICT) in particular has facilitated access to information and exchange of knowledge and skills. Today, people don't have to physically travel in order to get or deliver information.
They can just phone, send a text message by a mobile phone or e-mail whatever they want to communicate to others without travelling and wasting time and money.
According to John Baylis and Steve Smith in their book titled "The Globalisation of World Politics: An introduction to international relations (Second Edition)", Globalisation has been occurring through the growth of computer networks, electronic mass media and the like.
They say such technologies permit persons to have nearly immediate contact with each other, irrespective of their location on earth and regardless of state borders that might lie between them. But there are also side effects to ICT advancement due to misuse and abuse of it through cyber crime.
The latter was one of the issues raised at a meeting of SADC police force heads held in Zanzibar recently when participants appealed for joint efforts to address organised crimes including cyber crime, which is becoming widespread. To counter this negative phenomenon cyber security is extremely important especially in corporate and government institutions due to increased cyber attacks, which result in financial losses, intrusion of privacy and security.
In light of this, Tanzania Global Learning Centre (TaGLA) organised a workshop on cyber security last month and its effects in corporate business and government institutions in Arusha Region.
The workshop was aimed at providing public awareness, understanding and experience in dealing with cyber attacks, which often target companies, organisations and government bodies, which are now technologically interconnected. Individual people are not spared either.
For instance, viruses affect every computer user and it is costly to purchase anti-virus programmes because viruses are created every time and there are people benefiting from them. There are people sending pornographic materials on the net and some people become addicted to them and waste their precious time searching for more and distributing them to others.
"With increased internet use there is always a need for new frontiers of knowledge. Cyber security is part of this. Since new viruses are always created computer and internet users must increase their cyber security literacy," says a Dar es Salaam-based ICT expert Alex Makanga.
He says without adequate up-to-date cyber security literacy, computer and internet users will be at risk for they may find themselves being spied on and their information stolen unaware. "Journalists are not spared in this menace given the nature of their work," he notes.
According to TaGLA training coordinator Dickson Mwanyika, the workshop enabled participants to acquire general awareness and understanding about cyber security, hands-on experience on how to effectively carry out corporate cyber security, acquire knowledge on internet policies and cyber security and key security skills to enhance daily controls, monitoring and prevention of cyber crime.
He said senior researchers and cyber security experts covered various topics on the subject matter. Thus, the workshop was facilitated through a blended approach comprising lectures, group work and presentations. Participants were able to assess the content and a certificate was issued after a successful completion of the workshop.
Speaking on the targeted group, TaGLA interim executive director Charles Senkondo said participants included computer security and technical support personnel, system administrators, network programmers, data base administrators and network engineers.
Others were ICT managers, auditors, military and police personnel and ICT stakeholders from the public and private institutions. While lecturing on fraud detection, investigation and prevention during a videoconference last year, Kenyan trainers Abdallah Komesha and Kitonyi Augustine hinted on cyber security.
They said since the effects of fraud including cyber attacks had far reaching consequences, organisations suffered financially and so managers should set clear guidelines and mechanisms of dealing with it. Although ICT has facilitated communication, it can easily be manipulated to steal personal information, cause financial losses and psychological burdens to victims.
Sometimes people receive e-mails from unknown sources and wonder how the senders managed to get their contacts. Others have their personal communication invaded by other users. This just shows the magnitude of cyber crime problem. Computer users everywhere are vulnerable to spyware.
This is a type of software that spies on what one does on one's computer by transmitting personally identifiable information (PII) from one's computer to some place without the user's knowledge. Spyware programmes collect personal information, such as internet surfing sites visited.
The result is slow connection speed, loss of internet connection or functionality of other programmes or computer damage. Cyber attacks go against security policies. The distributor of spyware usually presents a programme as a free useful tool or software agent. Users download and install the software without immediately suspecting that it causes harm to them.
"Key loggers record what keys one presses on one's keyboard and so we must be aware of this type of fraud," says Komesha, when explaining how personal information could be stolen by another user without one's knowledge. "Scammers can use one's details to steal one's online banking password or other personal information and use the information fraudulently.
A key logger can be connected to one's computer for fraud purposes without the knowledge of the user. So, it is good to familiarise oneself with how spyware is done to protect one's personal information saved on the computer," says Augustine. Spyware may cause direct and indirect economic decline due to losses suffered by prominent corporations and firms and their clients.
Through the use of computer and internet services, users can nowadays communicate faster, while in the past they relied on letter writing only, which was time consuming. So, letter writing has dropped considerably thanks to ICT advancement but there are side effects of ICT advancement, which we have to deal with to protect personal information from being accessed by other users.
Tanzania is rapidly changing because of ICT advancement and people can now communicate and get things done faster. This is a great leap in development, which needs to be maintained. People, who have access to internet services prefer sending emails to writing letters to family members, friends, business partners, companies, organisations or institutions.
Besides computers, mobile phones have also e-mail and SMS facilities. As a result, more and more people can access e-learning, e-government and e-commerce services and know what is happening. Yet, computer users must know about cyber security and protect their personal information from theft, while remaining linked to other users.
It requires detection and investigative skills to deal with cyber attacks, whenever they occur. Detecting spyware is difficult and should be made an aspect of routine business in both the public and private sectors. Resources must be allocated specifically for the task.
But all these risks can be minimised if more and more employees in the public and private sectors know how to protect personal, company, organisational or institutional information from being stolen, which can endanger people's lives and national security. It is also important to know how to protect one's computer from cyber attacks. So, knowledge is profitable and ignorance is costly. TaGLA workshop has proved that.