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DPP, BoU call for tougher cyber criminal laws

Cyber crime is flourishing in the digital era.

Government should strengthen laws against cybercrime and include recovery as part of the legal process

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The financial sector players and the Directorate of Public Prosecutions want the government to strengthen the laws against cybercrime and other economic offences to include recovery as part of the legal process.

This is part of the many proposals they think, if implemented, could reduce the risk the financial sector faces, especially as digitization continues to take root. As the economy and financial sector in particular digitalize further, the need for physical cash reducing cybercrimes gets more sophisticated.

Forensics and cyber security expert Mustapha Mugisa says the industry players have an advantage that they have to be ahead of the game, while the criminals keep studying the developments, for loopholes to strike. The damage inflicted on the global economy will amount to US$ 6 trillion this year, and could reach US$ 10.5 trillion annually by 2025, according to Cyber security ventures, a global researcher in cybercrime.

Patrick Njoroge, the governor Central Bank of Kenya says that the main worry is that there is usually a greater threat from the inside compared to an entirely external attack.

He told the 4th Uganda Bankers Association Annual Conference in Kampala, that even in East Africa, the threat is increasing which calls for creation of trust among countries and regions if this is to be controlled.

The Bank of Uganda Governor Emanuel Tumisiime Mutebile challenged governments and the financial industry to develop what he called integral strategies that will cater for not only the industry, but also linkage sectors to the industry, including education.

He warned that as the financial sector goes more digital, there must be a balance between digitalization and job protection, otherwise the economic value will be lost.

While institutions in Uganda have in the recent past been developing security systems around their operations, they have not been spared in attacks, with the most recent one coming in October last year, targeting mobile money companies.

While some suspects were arrested, it is not known how many or which people were involved in the attack, just as many perpetrators in previous incidents have gone scot-free. The Executive Director for Bank Supervision at the Bank of Uganda, Twinemanzi Tumubweine challenged the legal system in Uganda to show what it is capable of when it comes to handling cyber offences.

He also blamed the companies which lost money for not collaborating and sharing information, saying this would have mitigated the extent of the crime.

Senior State Attorney Caroline Marion Acio agreed that there is a lot lacking in the judicial system, including on the side of prosecution, the judiciary and the laws, which has suspects walk away.

She says the courts cannot entirely be blamed because they receive what comes from the prosecution. She also suggested special training of judicial officers in the management of such cases as well as the creation of a special court-mandated to handle cyber and related crime.

But there is also concern as to the capacity of the officials themselves to handle the cases. Cyber-related offences have remained the most difficult to prosecute worldwide, with some offenders continuously involving in the same crime, since they are hard to locate. Acio also implored organizations not to leave out low-level employees from the training programs, because these are usually targeted when the criminals want to gain access to the security systems.

She gave an example of a case in Uganda where criminals went through a cleaner, whom they knew did not had an idea what their intention was.

Acio called for joint efforts from different stakeholders if the country is to stay ahead of the criminals and defeat cyber-attacks. She also called for changes in the laws to make the punishments tougher, and also provide for the recovery of the money stolen.

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