By Mustapha Darboe
A research report published yesterday by the West Africa Cybersecurity Indexing and Readiness has indicated that the most vulnerable sector within the Gambia to cyber-attack is the banking and financial sector.
The report looks at the scope, level of readiness and preparedness of Ghana, Nigeria, Gambia and Liberia, in their effort to combat cyber threats and intrusions into their economic, social and political structures.
“Available information from all four countries put the Banking and Finance sector as the most vulnerable to cyber-attacks,” it stated.
“More than 60% of those surveyed within the Banking and financial institutions have been victims or have known victims of cyber-crime in the last 12 months.”
The report examines the types of cybersecurity commitments by Ghana, Nigeria, Gambia and Liberia, success in cybersecurity policy implementation, the top cybersecurity threats in West Africa, emerging trends with a direct impact on cybersecurity in West Africa, the imminent types of vulnerabilities these countries are susceptible to and how it affects growth and development.
The report also revealed that network bypass theft and other incidents of cyber intrusion continue to plague the telecommunication industry in all four countries, even as they look forward to invest in new technologies to boost their security and infrastructure.
Regardless of the threat, the report stated that more than half of the telecommunications companies in the four countries had no budget set aside for security.
The report stated that telecommunication operators surveyed also believed they were losing revenue of about 20% due to illegal system access.
It added that 70 percent of private and public organizations polled in the survey and analysis in the countries involved had little or no idea about the reality of cybercrime.
“Gambia and Liberia’s organizational procedures and processes have lagged behind in developing organization measures to counter cyber threats. In 2015, Gambia made its first attempt at putting in place a Cybersecurity strategy,” the report added.
With an increase in internet users and countries such as Gambia registering 373,865 Internet users as of March 2017, the report stated that threat is equally growing.
“All 4 countries had one attack trend in common. The hacking of electoral systems and government websites: Hack attacks cut Internet access in Liberia. The official website of Gambia’s Government House has been shut down by suspected hackers after disputed electoral results,” the report added.
“Hackers paralyzed computers at Gambia’s U.N Permanent Mission. Hackers have targeted the website of Ghana’s electoral commission as votes are counted after tightly contested elections. The majority of the Ghanaian government’s websites, including its main site, have been hacked and are currently offline.”
The report said though the attack vectors in West Africa have been escalating, they are not up to the level of what is happening in developed countries.
“Cybercriminals are starting to wake up to the fact that West Africa is a gold field with wide open systems,” it stated.
The report was done by 3T Solutions Consulting, a global Cybersecurity and Technology organization with offices in the United States, Ghana, Nigeria and India, providing expert cybersecurity and innovative technology to all tiers of business and governments.