UN urges African nations to deepen internet security

The International Telecommunications Union (ITU)  the United Nations’ (UN) arm in charge of global telecommunications, has called on governments in Nigeria and other areas of Africa to strengthen their internet security.

The UN is concerned that as the world continues to recover from the fallout of the Covid-19 pandemic there is more reliance on virtual working, e-governance and online marketplaces. While this all helps to support economic recovery, it is opening up more opportunity for cybercrime. Recent research revealed that 40% of global internet traffic was actually bad bots involved in malicious activity.

It also pointed to the rise in reports of malicious cyber activities and digital threats that have been reported in many African countries, including national security breaches, illicit financial movements and intelligence theft.

To address these issues, the UN notes that many African countries need to commit to increased levels of cybersecurity. Such as risk prevention, improved technologies and infrastructure and enforceable policy safeguards.

Despite this, the latest Global Cybersecurity Index – which measures a country’s commitment to improving cybersecurity reveals that Africa is lagging behind compared to other continents. Published by the ITU, the report bases its findings on five elements: legal, technical, organisational, capacity development and cooperation.

Africa showed the strongest results in its prevalence of legislation – it came second only to Europe, though it was noted that these legal frameworks were lacking in adequate depth and breadth. Positively, of 54 African countries included in the results, 29 had already passed cybersecurity legislation, with four more currently working on it.

However in terms of cooperation, just 19 African countries are signatories to multilateral cybersecurity agreements, compared to 41 European countries. The report also identified a lack of maturity in Africa’s cybersecurity measures. There are just 19 Computer Incident and Emergency Response Teams (CIRTs), out of the 131 worldwide CIRTs. Six of those were set up in the relatively short timeframe of 2018-2020.

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