African governments are not well equipped to deal with cybercrime attacks increasing their vulnerability to loss of data and money through hacking.
According to the Global Cybersecurity Index (GCI) 2017, African governments need to consider policies that support continued growth in technology sophistication, access and security, and adopt national cybersecurity strategies.
There has been increased incidents of hacking of government and corporate systems in Kenya in particular with the latest being last week when 18 government websites were temporarily taken down by hackers.
Earlier in February, Kenya's Directorate of Criminal Investigations issued warrants of arrest for 130 suspected hackers and fraudsters for alleged banking fraud between June last year and January this year and sought the public's help in their arrest. The warrants of arrest were issued a day after the Central Bank of Kenya called on commercial banks to brace for more risks that IT systems pose to their operations, reflecting fears of the rising cases of cybercrimes in financial institutions.
It is argued that last week's attack on the government websites shows that there are gaps, and if Kenya, one of Africa's leading technology markets, is having a hard time, there is cause for concern for the rest of the continent.
According to the GCI report, developing countries lack trained cybersecurity experts as well as the necessary know-how on cybersecurity issues for law enforcement, coupled with weak legislatures that cannot enact the necessary laws to guide the judiciary.
"There is a need for the developed world to help train experts in cybersecurity, and more co-operation should be initiated between developed and developing countries," the report says.
GCI is a survey that measures the commitment of member states to cybersecurity in order to raise awareness and help countries identify areas for improvement as well as motivating them to raise their overall level of commitment.
The report ranks countries by their commitment in prevention of cybercrime attacks across five key areas: Legal, technical, organisational, capacity building and co-operation. Kenya and a few other countries are ranked moderate on commitment level. Mauritius is ranked the highest. Kenya is estimated to have just 1,700 skilled cybersecurity professionals, with 60 per cent of the companies facing a shortage.