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Badilisha Lugha KISWAHILI

Importance of cyber security in ICT advancement

23rd March 2012

Cyber security is very important in corporate and government institutions due to increased cyber attacks caused by increased abuse of information communication technology (ICT). You may have come across big shops written “anything goes” to show people are free to do what they want! But this is very wrong!

A three-day face-to-face workshop on cyber security and its effects on corporate businesses and government institutions now running in Arusha aims at providing awareness, understanding and experience in dealing with cyber attacks, which often target companies, organisations and government bodies, which are now technologically interconnected.

Organised by the Tanzania Global Learning Centre (TGDLC) and redelivered by experienced senior researchers and cyber security experts, the workshop is facilitated through a blended approach comprising lectures, group work and presentations. Participants will finally be assessed on the content and a certificate will be issued after a successful completion of the workshop.

It targets computer security and technical support personnel, system administrators, network programmers, data base administrators and network engineers. Others are ICT managers, auditors, military and police personnel and ICT stakeholders from the public and private institutions.

Speaking on fraud investigation, detection and prevention during a videoconference last year, Kenyan trainers Abdallah Komesha and Kitonyi Augustine shed light on computer security.

They said since the effects of fraud including cyber attacks had far reaching consequences, organisations suffered financially and so managers should set clear guidelines and mechanisms of dealing.

I have referred to last year’s workshop because the trainers showed how ICT could be fraudulently manipulated to steal personal information, cause financial losses and psychological burdens to people. You might have received e-mails from unknown sources and wondered how they got your e-mail address.

You might have also heard of people, whose personal e-mail communication has been invaded by other users to their advantage. This just shows you how important cyber security is important at this time of ICT advancement.

”In developing countries like Tanzania, where fraud incidents are rampant, fraud detection is extremely difficult but very important.

This is because there are too weak internal control systems and law enforcement machinery to deal with fraud effectively,” said a Dar es Salaam-based internet café service provider Aisha Manono, who often experiences slow internet speed due to spyware effects as a result of ICT abuse.

It is a fact that, computer users everywhere are vulnerable to spyware. This is a type of software that spies on what one does on one’s computer by transmitting personally identifiable information (PII) from one’s computer to some place without the user’s knowledge.

Spyware programmes collect personal information, such as internet surfing sites visited. The result is slow connection speed, loss of internet connection or functionality of other programmes or computer damage.

According to Wikipedia encyclopaedia, cyber security standards are standards, which enable companies, organisations and institutions to practise safe security techniques to check potential cyber security attacks, which include spyware.

The standards, the Wikipedia encyclopaedia elaborates further, provide general outlines and specific techniques for implementing cyber security and protecting trade secrets, proprietary information and PII of their customers or employees.

Cyber attacks go against security policies. The distributor of spyware usually presents a programme as a free useful tool or software agent.

Users download and install the software without immediately suspecting that it causes harm to them.

“Key loggers record what keys one presses on one’s keyboard and so we must be aware of this type of fraud,” said Komesha, when explaining how personal information could be stolen by another user without one’s knowledge.

"Scammers can use one’s details to steal one’s online banking password or other personal information and use the information fraudulently.

A key logger can be connected to one’s computer for fraud purposes without the knowledge of the user. So, it is good to familiarize oneself with how spyware is done to protect one’s personal information saved on the computer,” said Augustine during last year’s videoconference workshop.

Spyware may cause direct and indirect economic decline due to losses suffered by prominent corporations and firms and their clients.

“Through the use of computer and internet services, users can nowadays communicate faster, while in the past they relied on letter writing only, which was time consuming. So, letter writing has dropped considerably thanks to ICT advancement but there are side effects of ICT advancement, which we have to deal with to protect personal information from being accessed by other users,” said an ICT expert Alexander Mugaya, who runs his own business in Dar es Salaam.

According to Mugaya, Tanzania is rapidly changing because of ICT advancement and people can now communicate and get things done faster.

“This is a great leap in development, which needs to be maintained,” he said and wished more Tanzanians learnt about ICT applications “for you cannot avoid computer literacy if you want to compete well in today’s world, as almost everything is now computerised.”

People, who have access to internet services prefer sending e-mails to writing letters to family members, friends, business partners,

companies, organisations or institutions. Besides computers, mobile phones have also e-mail and SMS facilities. As a result, more and more people can access e-learning, e-government and e-commerce services and know what is happening.

Yet, computer users must know about cyber security and protect personal information from theft, while remaining linked to other users.It requires detection and investigative skills to deal with cyber attacks, whenever they occur.

Detecting spyware is difficult and should be made an aspect of routine business in both the public and private sectors. Resources must be allocated specifically for the task.

But all these risks can be minimised if more and more employees in the public and private sectors know how to protect personal, company, organisational or institutional information from being stolen, which can endanger people’s lives and national security.

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