The Commonwealth Telecommunications Organisation (CTO) has warned that Malawi is a soft target for cyber crimes as many people are yet to grasp latest technological advancements.
Cyber crimes are criminal offences committed through Internet or those aided by various forms of computer technology.
Some of the criminal activities undertaken in the cyber world include fraud, child pornography, hacking, bullying, stalking, defamation and terrorism.
CTO secretary general Shola Taylor said in an interview yesterday in Lilongwe that cyber crime tend to be on the increase in countries that are peaceful and not fully exposed to information and communication technology (ICT) such as Malawi.
“Those who perpetuate cyber crimes target soft spots such as Malawi. Cyber crime can aid money laundering and hackers to steal from unsuspecting people especially now when Internet is being used to transfer money,” he said.
Taylor was speaking yesterday on the sidelines of an official opening of the CTO cyber security strategy workshop for Malawi currently underway in Lilongwe.
He said the workshop has come at a time there is need to have proper legislation in place to deal with perpetrators of cyber crime.
“Online transactions are prone to attacks and can be abused. With people using credit cards on a daily basis, we need to be on guard and alert. With the coming in of Internet, a lot of things are moving fast and extremists can be easily created; hence, the need for Malawians to be on guard on Internet abuse,” said Taylor.
An ICT professional Chauncy Mopho Jere, who is also managing director for Robert Brown Consulting Group (RBCG) and is attending the forum, agreed with Taylor that Malawi is a soft spot for cyber criminals.
“Malawi is porous and not secure and the way we are doing things will one day lead to huge problems. My suggestion is that we need to strengthen e-government because the way it is now, anything can happen,” he said.
On her part, Minister of Information, Communications Technology and Civic Education Patricia Kaliati said as a developing country, Malawi faces a lot of challenges in fighting cyber crime at a time the country is opening up to more online transactions.
“We have heard stories of how some Malawians have lost their hard-earned income through electronic financial transactions.
“We have also heard stories of how we lost some of our young girls and boys through human trafficking initiated over the cyber space,” she said, hoping that a National Cyber Strategy will be developed at the workshop to help Malawi tackle and fight the rising wave of cyber crime.
Malawi Communications and Regulatory Authority (Macra) director general Godfrey Itaye said the increase in online transactions through Internet and mobile banking has brought a threat of cyber crime which needs to be nipped in the bud. n