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Over 90% of Ugandans are cyber insecure – Experts

Karuhanga (fourth from left) with participants at the Minet-organised cyber security meeting in Kampala. Photo via URN

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Cybersecurity experts say over 90 percent of Ugandans, firms, organisations and government agencies are operating below the cybersecurity poverty level.

Cybersecurity poverty is a term used to describe an organization’s ability to protect itself from cyber-attacks or crimes at the most basic level. It looks at five basic elements namely negligence, deficiency, functionality, development and advantages.

Noah Baalessanvu, a cyber-security expert, says various studies show that most Ugandans, over 90 percent, are vulnerable to cyber-attacks and crimes because they don’t have even the basic protection mechanism.

Speaking at a cyber-security event on Wednesday in Kampala organized by Minet, a continental cyber-security firm, Baalessanvu says the best form of protection most Ugandans, firms, organisations and government agencies have is a password.

Baalessanvu says beyond the password, most information technology users also use and stop at tool-oriented protective measures like firewalls, leaving areas like policies, laws, processes, technological changes and others unattended to.

He appeals to Ugandans to start taking keen interest in their IT usage, starting with the mobile phones, in order to protect their valuable data.

Baalessanvu recommends that organisations should prioritise cybersecurity with direct lines to the boards, share information on threats, build capabilities for resilience and recoverability when attacked and promote cyber hygiene, just like the human body is protected.

Winnie Kiwuwa, the Chief Operating Officer of Minet, says cybercrimes are widespread, most of which do not get reported.

According to Kiwuwa, the 42 million dollars that Uganda is said to lose annually is a drop in te ocean because most crimes are not reported.

Kiwuwa says Uganda is ranked amongst high-risk countries in terms of cyber-attacks, hence the need to dedicate efforts to cybersecurity.

Elly Karuhanga, the Chairman of Minet, says as lawyers they know first-hand that the extent of financial and other losses due to cybercrimes is much more than the official figure of 42 million dollars.

According to Karuhanga, Ugandans and firms should start prioritizing cybersecurity because cybercrimes is an existential threat.

Arnold Mangeni, the Director of Information Security at National Information Technology Authority (NITA-U), says Ugandans should become aware of the basics in cybersecurity, like being alert to suspicious occurrences.

A 201 report by Kenyan cyber security organization, Serianu Cyber Threat Intelligence, stated that cybercrimes in Uganda results in 122-billion-shilling loss annually.

According to the report, the commonest cybercrime in Uganda is the exploitation of vulnerabilities within web applications whereby a cyber-criminal targets content of users.

Ironically, a September 2018 report by E-Governance Academy Foundation Company, an Estonian think tank and company, ranked Uganda as Number One in Africa in a National Cyber Security Index.

The index is a global study covering up to 109 states with Uganda taking the 40th position globally ahead of Mauritius and Nigeria in Africa.

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