Rwanda: New Online Platform to Tackle Cyber Crimes

9 December 2020

Get Safe Online, a UK-based non-government organization that seeks to ensure online safety in Common Wealth countries, in partnership with the Ministry of ICT and Innovation, and the National Cyber Security Authority among other partners launched an online platform in Kinyarwanda that intends to curb the increasing cyber threats.

Previously, the website was an only English English platform, which arguably limited some Rwandans from benefiting from it, due to the language barrier.

This is the first time Get Safe Online has translated a website into a non-English local language, in the 22 Commonwealth member countries that it operates in.

Commenting on what prompted the introduction of the Kinyarwanda version of Get Safe Online platform, Jenny Thornton, Head of International Relations at Get Safe Online said that it was in bid to ensure inclusion.

"Online safety is very important for everyone, from mobile phone users in rural areas to laptop users in urban areas. Therefore, we did not want to exclude anyone because they can't understand English," she underscored.

The platform creates awareness around how people can protect themselves, children, businesses, workplace and technology gadgets from online threats, and can be accessed free of charge by anyone with means of connecting to the internet.

This comes at a time when people in Rwanda and elsewhere in the world are, more than ever, relying on online technology.

This exposes them to online threats, hence the need for awareness on how to avoid being vulnerable to cyber-attacks.

According to the Rwanda Investigation Bureau (RIB), cyber crimes have increased at a rate of 72 percent during the Covid-19 lockdown imposed countrywide.

A timely platform

Speaking at the launch event on Tuesday, December 9, Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of ICT and Innovation, Yves Iradukunda, noted that the new platform comes at the right time.

"It is important that as people rely on online platforms, more than ever, to do different things, safety is ensured. The platform is a stepping stone to the ongoing efforts to promote online safety in Rwanda by creating cybersecurity awareness among other mechanisms in place," he said.

Highlighting the prevalent cyber-attacks in Rwanda, Ghislain Kayigi, Chief Cyber Security Standards Officer at NCSA, said that they are mostly related to digital mobile money transactions, email phishing and general ransomware."

Ransomware is malicious software that infects a given computer and displays messages demanding a fee to be paid in order for the computer's system to work again.

The attack has the ability to lock a computer screen or encrypt important, predetermined files with a password.

Kayigi therefore went on to say that "having a Kinyarwanda version of the Get Safe Online website will reach more Rwandan citizens, be it in urban or rural areas."

As is the case globally, in Rwanda, cyber-attacks not only affect individuals. For instance, according to statistics by RIB, in 2018, approximately Rwf289.5 million was stolen from financial institutions in the country in 22 cases of cyber-attacks recorded

Of the amount, the Central Bank said that about Rwf208m was successfully recovered from the fraudsters.

As part of the UK Commonwealth Cyber Security programme, Get Safe Online has been commissioned by the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office to implement tailored communications programmes to raise awareness on the importance of online safety in Commonwealth countries, of which Rwanda is a member.

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