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Badilisha Lugha KISWAHILI

ICT accelerates Tanzania`s giant leap in development, prosperity

21st February 2012

The advancement of information communication technology (ICT) has facilitated service delivery in the public and private sectors and things are done more efficiently than it used to be in the past.

“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,” says 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 says and wishes that 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 information security applied to computers and networks - they must know about protection of computer information from theft or corruption, while remaining linked to other users. According to Wikipedia encyclopaedia, “Cyber security standards are security standards, which enable organisations to practise safe security techniques to minimise the number of successful cyber security attacks.

These guides provide general outlines as well as specific techniques for implementing cyber security... and guard[ing] against identity theft.

Businesses also have a need for cyber security because they need to protect their trade secrets, proprietary information and personally identifiable information (PII) of their customers or employees. The government also has the need to secure its information.”

This shows how security policies and computer applications have become more important in today’s world. You either have to know safe security techniques and use them or risk cyber attacks. Considering this importance, the Tanzania Global Development Programme (TGDLC) will on March 14-16, this year, organise a face to face workshop on cyber security and its effects on corporate and government institutions in Arusha, Tanzania.

The aim of the workshop is to provide public awareness, understanding and experience on internet policies and cyber security and enhance daily controls, monitoring and prevention of cyber attacks.

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

Speaking on fraud investigation, detection and prevention during a videoconference linked to TGDLC in Dar es Salaam last year, Kenyan trainers Abdallah Komesha and Kitonyi Augustine shed light on computer security.

They said since the effects of fraud, which includes those of cyber attacks, were widespread, organisations suffered financially and so managers should set clear guidelines.

Computer users 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 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.

Cyber attacks go against security policies. The distributor of spyware usually presents the 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,” Komesha during a videoconference workshop last year.

”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 familiarise oneself with how spyware is done to protect one’s personal information saved on the computer,” said Augustine during a lecture.

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

I have referred to last year’s workshop because it talked about how ICT could be fraudulently manipulated to steal personal information, cause financial losses and psychological burdens to people. Imagine one finds one’s personal information accessed by other computer users!

”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 sometimes experiences slow internet speed due to spyware effects.

It requires detection and investigative skills to deal with cyber attacks, whenever they occur. Detecting spyware is hard work and a continuous undertaking 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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