Why digital forensics should be included in university IT curriculum

23May 2016
Gerald Kitabu
The Guardian
Why digital forensics should be included in university IT curriculum

Scientists and ICT experts have called on the government and academic institutions in particular to review the current University IT curriculum and syllabus to include digital forensics.

Director of knowledge management (DKM) with Tanzania Commission for Science and Technology (COSTECH), Dr Jim Yonazi facilitates during science technology and innovation (STI) forum, that was organised by COSTECH in Dar es Salaam. PHOTO: GERALD KITABU

They said doing so, would enable Tanzania get competent and confident experts with the right skill sets to fend off increasing clever and sophisticated criminal tactics in cyber security issues.

They said Tanzania’s University curriculum has no digital forensics in the curriculum, a situation which has led to lack of competent and confident technical experts to defend against any attack related to cybercrimes.

They also said that scant knowledge and skills on digital forensics among local experts has limited them from conducting fruitful digital forensic investigation and stopping data raiders from penetrating in different security, business and financial institutions.

Speaking at the science technology and innovation (STI) forum that was organised by COSTECH in Dar es Salaam over the weekend, cyber security and digital forensics expert Yusufu Kileo said that poor IT curriculum at university has greatly contributed to lack of such experts.

Citing an example of different academic institutions in the country, Kileo said that it is surprising to note that some Universities still have the so called computer workshops which, in other Universities are an old fashion.
He said that most University IT-curriculums is still ‘dancing” the old-fashion which legged behind the current rapid global technological advancement.

He said, to a large extent, this is contributed by poor education system which still cling to the old-fashion while the current world needed the right skill sets to effectively and efficiently curb and manage cyber crimes and fruitfully conduct digital forensics investigation.

He said that while developed world and some few African countries are working around the clock to invest and train technical experts on digital forensics to protect sensitive data, Tanzania still lags behind due to poor curriculum which produce human personnel in this field.

“The changing world has necessitated the countries to invest in digital forensics and to capacitate their security institutions, business companies and financial institutions in Tanzania little is known about this rapid advancing technology,” he said.

“When I learnt that computer workshops have outdated, I decided to bring the new curriculum from the first world to be used in teaching IT-University students, but I hear it is still in the process which means it has never been used,” he said.

Kileo who is often invited to speak and chair information security, risk, and crime as well as provide opinion pieces via TV, radio and print and online media, said that many institutions leak confidential information, such as credit-card data and embarrassing internal e-mails due to scant knowledge on digital forensics.

Citing financial institutions, he said that cyber criminals have stolen money from central banks and hacked several major websites due to lack of competent experts on the field.

“I understand that our President Dr John Magufuli is doing a very great job of cutting unnecessary costs and raising money to fund different projects in the country, but if there shall be no experts with the right skill sets to fend off increasing clever and sophisticated criminal tactics in financial institutions and other areas, all his efforts might not bear the desired fruits,” he warned.

He said if Tanzania realises the importance of cyber security and digital forensics, and decides to put heavy investment, it will help in curbing cybercrimes and unlock other issues and socio-economic opportunities.

“Cybercriminals mostly target two things, data and money – Data has also been used as the source to get money as it has been proved to be very resourceful and organisations tend to buy data which are stolen from other organisation for different reasons,” he noted.

For his part, a lecturer from the college of ICT of the University of Dar es Salaam, (UDSM) Joseph Cosmas echoed Kileo’s comments saying for the majority of universities and the general public, the issue of digital forensics is still new to them.
“At University, we have the so called network security but not digital forensic. This discipline is new. We need to push for the review of the curriculum,” he said.

Kileo said that according to cyber security firm Risk Based Security, five of the biggest 10 hacks ever happened in 2014, while 1.1 billion records were compromised in 3,014 data breach incidents around the world, up from the previous record of 822 million exposed records in 2013.

Advice to the government
Kileo advised the government to put under one umbrella all government institutions that are connected to digital forensics for them to effectively and efficiently operate.

In countries where these institutions are working in one umbrella, they have minimized costs but also worked efficiently.
Earlier, opening the forum on behalf of the Director General of Tanzania Commissioner for Science and Technology (COSTECH) Dr Hassan Mshinda, the Director of knowledge management (DKM) at COSTECH, Dr Jim Yonazi said that knowledge on digital forensics was a must if Tanzania wanted to stay safe from cybercrimes.

He said that the with the rapid changing world, the right skill sets on digital forensics investigation would help to ward off cybercriminals who infiltrates banks and other institutions saying it was very important for the defense and security systems of the country.

He said that the cybercriminals are clever enough to develop new tactics that need review of curriculum to create more confident experts to address day to day emerging digital challenges.

He said that many sophisticated crimes are currently coming from digital world, and there is no way Tanzania can avoid it. He said that like many other countries, Tanzania must also get prepared and invest in digital forensics.

Earlier this month, SWIFT, the global financial messaging network that banks use to move billions of dollars every day, warned of a second malware attack similar to the one that led to February's $81 million cyber heist at the Bangladesh Central Bank.