17 August 2014

Zimbabwe: Regional Bodies Move to Curb Cyber-Crimes

THREE trade organisations, which Zimbabwe is member to, have conducted a study on key public infrastructure protection to curb Information Technology (IT) related crimes which are affecting business productivity.

The widespread use of private devices to access corporate emails, process online and banking transactions as well as various internet connections is leading to more firms being vulnerable to cyber-crimes.

The Common Market for East and Southern Africa (Comesa), Association of Regulators for Information and Communications in Eastern and Southern Africa and the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) conducted the study in a bid to promote a culture of cyber security within the regional trading bloc.

Comesa secretary general Sindiso Ngwenya said the study was conducted with various aims besides assessing measures taken by Comesa member states on IT Security.

"The objective is to come up with frameworks for cyber-security and Critical Information Infrastructure Protection [CIIP]. It is also intended to share best practices adopted internationally on similar CIIP efforts," Ngwenya said.

He said the benefits that IT has brought modern organisations have not come without risks as these vary in size and scope, from revealing new vulnerabilities in the Eastern and Southern regions' critical infrastructures to enabling new forms of fraud.

Cyber-crime takes various forms such as spam, which interrupts networks, cuts productivity and spreads computer viruses.

Such IT-related crimes primarily target banks and bank-related services, as well as identity platforms.

It is distributed broadly across the economy, since it targets the main components on which much of the digital economy rests namely payments and identity.

Ngwenya said a robust market for cyber-insurance would offer several key benefits to society, foremost, a strong incentive to individuals and organisations to take appropriate precautions.

"Insurance companies could reward security investment by lowering premiums for less risky actors. Because insurance companies base their competitive advantage on risk-adjusted premium differentiation, they have an incentive to collect data on security incidents where claims are made," he said.

Ngwenya said this development would make it inevitable for countries to develop insurance systems which will provide benefits to their citizens, financial sector and opportunities to the insurance sector.

Strategies concerning implementation of the cyber-crime programme will be developed with involvement of the public sector, private sector, financial institutions, and development partners' regional and international organisations.

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