African Mobile Payments, Other Online Security Capacity Varies Wildly

September 13, 2018         By: Steven Anderson

Issues of cybersecurity, according to the Africa Cybersecurity Report 2017, cost Africa better than $3.5 billion annually. Given that Africa’s entire nominal GDP is $2.19 trillion, this is actually a fairly bigger problem than some might expect. Granted, it’s not a whole-number percentage of the total, but it’s not too far away. Some countries in the region, though, are serving as examples to others, as an IDG report sent our way detailed the best and the worst cybercrime fighters in Africa.

The current leader, the report notes, is tiny Mauritius, with just 1.2 million people to its credit. It’s recently pushed past perennial cybersecurity leaders Kenya and Rwanda thanks in large part to its move to bring in GDPR-style privacy laws. It’s also been seen working for common cybersecurity law throughout Africa, giving the whole continent a new readiness.

Rwanda, meanwhile, holds second with a police force—not to mention banks and even citizenry—that’s received training in cybercrime issues, and Kenya follows at third. Kenya even has its own force for cybersecurity, the Kenya National Computer Response Team, that’s seen cyber threats drop 25.5 percent between the second and third quarter. Rounding out the top four is Nigeria, who has put particular emphasis on pursuing cybercrime, with good results.

Meanwhile, technologically-advanced South Africa is considered the worst fighter, mostly because it’s targeted most often. It’s actually the sixth most targeted country in the world. The next three, Egypt, Zambia and Tanzania, all have varying levels of cybersecurity law, and much of that law pursuing censorship instead, which may ultimately turn citizens against government cybersecurity efforts.

There are common threads here; the lowest-protected nations have no unified approach to cybercrime and are often tainting the well by censoring as well, while best-protected nations are focusing directly on cybercrime prevention issues, and bringing in the average citizen as well. By incorporating censorship with cybersecurity, countries often do more harm than good; people want to see the web, not be told where to go and where not to.

No one likes to talk about “protecting” people from parts of the internet; it’s a slippery slope to censorship. But as long as there are spear phishing attempts and mobile payments fraud, it’s going to be worth at least the conversation.