By Khulile Thwala
As the world and technology evolve, so do the dangers associated with innovations. To highlight the dangers and ensure the public is cognisant of the implications of cybercrime, the Ministry of Information, Communication, and Technology say close to E2 million has been lost due to this.
Eswatini Communications Commission (ESCCOM), a subsidiary of the ministry, shared that through statistics, in the first half of this year alone, the country suffered a loss of over E1.9 million, further crippling the economy.
Fifty per cent of the cybercrime cases included in the statistics provided by ESCCOM are attributed to ATM fraud, with 15/31 cases from January to June. This month, to strengthen measures against cybercrime nationally, the Ministry of ICT issued the Eswatini National Cybersecurity Strategy for 2022 to 2027. The strategy will be implemented by a yet-to-be-established Eswatini National Cybersecurity Agency.
ESCCOM also embarked on a national cybersecurity awareness campaign with the objectives of shifting the perception of the responsibility of cybersecurity and increasing and reinforcing awareness of cybersecurity, including the rocks and threats affecting organisations and their workforce. Additionally, ESCCOM wants to promote the importance of including cybersecurity as a culture in different industries.
Detailing the threats and challenges posed by the current spectrum of cybersecurity in the country, the ministry says the Royal Eswatini Police Service (REPS), like other law enforcement forces globally, continues to face difficulty in conducting investigations, collecting electronic evidence and prosecuting cybercrimes.
The ministry said this was exacerbated by the sophistication of cyberattacks and the cross-border nature of the crimes committed. According to the national cybersecurity strategy, to avert this, the REPS is collaborating with other law enforcement agencies from the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) region and Interpol to pursue and prosecute cybercriminals.
The strategy further articulates the actions to be taken to ensure the capacitation of skills linked to the cyber industry as there is a lack of citizens with such skills. The ministry states that in the period of the next five years, it would develop a national cybersecurity education and career scheme aimed at promoting careers and continuous educational training in cybersecurity.
The ministry will also advocate for reviewing and updating the current education curriculum and related materials education system in Eswatini.
The Minister of ICT Princess Sikhanyiso, speaking on the strategy, said it articulates the creation of sectoral cybersecurity response teams for incident response coordination within sectors such as the financial sector, utilities; communications, energy, transport and others.
She further highlighted support and assistance for this strategy from international partners such as the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) and Commonwealth Telecommunications Organisation for support.
She also emphasised that the country’s vulnerability to cyber-attacks was high due to gaps in skills, knowledge, and capabilities required to comprehensively address the cybersecurity needs of the private and public sectors.
The minister further indicated that the general public has limited and insufficient knowledge and awareness of cybersecurity, hence the November awareness campaign facilitated by ESCCOM.
Below is the cost of cybercrime in the country this year: