Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Online attacks by hackers saw a whopping USD 52 million (192 billion Shillings) stolen from different organizations in Uganda, including banks in 2018, the latest survey shows.
This was a growth from the USD 44 million (162 billion Shillings) stolen in 2017 and USD 30 million (110 billion Shillings) stolen in 2016. This was revealed by Standard Chartered Bank and the Uganda Bankers’ Association on Wednesday as they called the financial sector to wake up to the threat.
The most targeted institutions were banks, microfinance, financial services integrator, and government agencies.
Albert Saltson, the Stanchart CEO said that cyber-attacks have become so serious that they are no longer a matter of if but when.
For Uganda, the situation is bad that at least 70 percent of the companies faced a shortage of cyber security professionals in 2019.
Wilbrod Owor, the executive director of UBA said a cyber-attack had the ability to collapse a financial institution overnight, a call to take the issue seriously.
He said that until recently, the weight given to the cybersecurity was low but now it’s top on the list of the sector regulator.
For Uganda, some of the banks attacked choose to keep quiet, many fearing reputational damage that may drive customers away. Also, even when an issue is reported, successful prosecution is still low. For instance, while 15 per cent of the cases were reported in 2018, only 5 per cent were successfully prosecuted.
Edward Mugerwa, a cybersecurity expert at Bank of Uganda said financial institutions’ resilience to cyberattacks means a lot of how ready they are.
He said attacks can be in different forms, including, denial of service attacks, message falsification, vandalism and false payments. Others target Automated teller Machines (ATMs) where customer details can be stolen ultimately stealing their money too.
He added that for Uganda, the attacks are not just coming from outside. There are also local players that are launching the attacks from within the country.
This calls for more vigilance, he said.
Uganda has issues with limited staff trained in cybersecurity. There are just 400 professionals in the area. Globally, there are only 3.5 million professionals.
Last year Uganda enacted a Data protection Act 2019 geared at the protection of people’s data in the hands of several corporations.