Friday, 10 April 2015


OUR life today depends on information technology (infotech). From communication, transport, finance and banking, to energy and education, the importance of infotech cannot be overemphasized.

However, as we become more reliant on infotech, which of course simplifies our life, we also put ourselves vulnerable to cyber-attacks. These may expose very sensitive personal and business information, disrupt critical operations and inflict high costs on individuals, organisations and even the entire country.

Recently, the government tabled the Cybercrime Act 2015 Bill which focused on protecting Tanzanians against cybercrime. The main objectives were to protect sensitive infrastructures, reduce vulnerability and minimise the damage that cyber-attacks may cause.

In essence, this is a milestone for our country, in as far as the responsibility of modern government is concerned, that is, protecting its citizens and their properties. The problem of not having a regulatory and legal framework is a big challenge to most developing countries.

Looking back in 2000, there was a serious cybercrime case in the Philippines which was filed on 29th June 2000 against a college student, Onel de Guzman who was a love bug creator. This student created a bug named “ILOVEYOU” which was released in May and was reproduced over e-mail systems.

It crippled many of the world’s computer networks, causing an estimated US $8 billion damage throughout affected countries. The damage stemmed from lowering the cooperate productivity through workers’ downtime, loss of business, and buying new antivirus for most of the organisations attacked by this virus.

Despite the damage caused by the virus, the charges were dropped due to a number of reasons. First and foremost was that by then, the Philippines had no specific Cybercrime law. Also there was no regulatory framework that could allow collaboration with other affected organisations in other countries.

Thus, there was no way the suspect could have been charged in another country. Tanzania’s Cybercrime Act 2015 Bill allows collaboration with other countries in fighting cybercrime. In this aspect, the laws are harmonised and can be applied to different countries.

That is a step forward which deserves commendation. But having the law in place is not enough. There are some important key issues that the nation should address if war on cybercrime is to be won. Top on the list should be awareness programmes.

The general public should be aware of the cybercrime Act. The infotech user should also be aware of the good and useful ways of this device. Effective awareness programmes play an important role in minimising cybercrimes in any nation. Every year in October (Awareness month) is a time dedicated to raising awareness across the nations.

It helps to educate those who commit cybercrimes, without knowing that what they are doing is wrong and the ones who commit cybercrimes while knowing what they are doing is wrong. The second important aspect is capacity building to develop the right required skills set from the policy makers.

This includes the ministers, Members of Parliament, and other stakeholders involved in policy making. Training them on the cyber threats and requirement of the policy that will help secure our cyber space.
The regulatory and enforcement agents like police, national security stems, regulators, prosecutors, and other who are involved in regulating and enforcing the laws in the country.

The third aspect is Local and International collaboration, this is required in judicial system, technology and knowledge sharing. To build international judicial system we need harmonised legal framework, Tanzania cannot deal with cybercriminal itself, and it needs collaboration with other countries as stated in African Union on combating cybercrime.

This is because when we look at technology we are using, we depend mostly on imported one, this technology is growing very fast, nowadays we have readymade hacking tools, codes are developed every day, there are many loop holes in a current technologies, we have organised cybercrime groups.

Anti-viruses and other technology for counter attacking the cybercrimes are changing every day. Therefore sharing technology and knowledge will put Tanzania safe in cyber space. Developed countries have seen this and the European Union have the strategy to deal with cybercrimes in their territories through interregional collaboration.

The current Cybercrime Act 2015 meets these criteria. Local collaboration between government agencies and private organisations should be very high. As mentioned earlier, cybercrimes are growing rapidly and the technology involved changes very fast.

Effectively responding to cybercrime incidents, providing technical assistance to victims of cybercrime, disseminating alert and notification for potential cybercrime for two units in Tanzania without involving private organisation is impossible.

A clear and good collaboration between private and public organisations to improve the networks security to its critical infrastructures like banking and finance, telecommunications, energy, transport, government agencies and other private organisations is strongly advised.

Collaboration between units dedicated to fight against cybercrimes is mandatory. There should be a clear channel for communication and knowledge sharing between these units which will simplify the journey to meet the target.

Joining all units under one roof would give room for units to share resources (both human resources and tolls) to maximise the potentials lies to this individual units.
Fourth important aspect is to provide actual statistics on Cybercrime happening to organisations – reporting actual incidents on time would facilitate provision of the required help to these organisations.

Hotspots would be easily identified and joint operation to extend ability to eliminate Cyberthreats to these organisations would be made accordingly to minimise risks.

This is possible and we have seen some examples from other nations and the impact made.

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