CIO East Africa (Nairobi)

23 July 2014

Uganda's Business Community Decries Rise in Cyber Crime

The business community in Uganda is on high alert. This is because of increased incidences of internet access in Uganda which has in turn led to an upsurge in cyber-related crime.

Some of the reasons for this are that first of all, cybercrime is cheaper than what is considered to be the more traditional forms of crime. For example, stealing money from ATMs is easier than arranging an armed robbery in a bank. Second, a large section of the youth is highly skilled and unemployed and thus channeling these skills towards committing various crimes in cyberspace.

This increase in cybercrime has prompted the government, through the National Information Technology Authority (NITA), to use all sources available to lodge a war against the vice. The NITA Uganda will regulate information technology and provide leadership organizational structures or and processes at the national level that safeguard information against accidental or unauthorized modification, destruction or disclosure.

The other important role that the NITA will play, will be to advise the government on cybersecurity matters so that preventive mechanisms are put in place to prevent breaches from occurring.

NITA has also embarked on the training of different government agencies running critical IT infrastructure in areas of incident handling, computer forensics and malware analysis.

The Director for Information Security at NITA-Uganda, Peter Kahiigi said: "We are targeting critical information infrastructure because they control systems which we are dependent on as a country for national security and for economic development. If, for instance the computerized systems for power generation, transmission and distribution suffer cyber-attacks, we will suffer black outs. If banks and other utility companies are attacked, the citizens of Uganda will suffer."

Various entities running on critical IT systems will be required to create technical and administrative controls such as adopting the use of user names and passwords to access systems and also to perform background checks during the recruitment of staff for critical IT jobs so as to avoid criminals being recruited in.

"If we fail to prevent breaches of information security controls then we will detect them through compliance checks," Kahiigi said.

NITA Uganda will also embark on a campaign to sensitize its citizens on the dangers that lurk in and on the laws that protect them against such crimes.

A National Information Security Advisory Group (NISAG) that will comprise of public and private sector experts in Information Security will also be appointed by the Minister of ICT to advise the Government on Information risks.

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