Cyber Security Authority in the offing

BY: Donald Ato Dapatem & Emelia Ennin Abbey
 President Akufo-Addo in a handshake with Mr Henry G. R. Kerali (right), Country Director, World Bank. With them is Mrs Ursula Owusu-Ekuful (left), the Minister of Communications
President Akufo-Addo in a handshake with Mr Henry G. R. Kerali (right), Country Director, World Bank. With them is Mrs Ursula Owusu-Ekuful (left), the Minister of Communications

The government will set up a National Cyber Security Authority, in line with international best practice, to position Ghana to deal with cyber threats expeditiously, President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has said.

In addition, a cyber training academy will be established, while a Cyber Security Act will also be enacted.

Speaking at the launch of the 28th National Cyber Security and Awareness Month in Accra yesterday, the President said the existing National Cyber Security Policy Strategy was being revised and would be completed before the end of the year.

He said the revision was essential to address current challenges, including funding for national cyber security.

The annual event is aimed at drawing attention to the growing importance of the digital space and its inherent dangers.

This year’s commemoration, which is on the theme: “A safer digital Ghana”, has focus on raising cyber security awareness.

Funding

President Akufo-Addo gave an assurance that the government was determined to provide adequate funding to make Ghana’s cyber space safer.

Since January last year, he said, the government had put in place a number of policies and initiatives aimed at accelerating the process of formalising and digitising Ghana’s economy.

That, he stated, was aimed at creating a system that would move all economic transactions and social activities from cash-based to electronic.

“Policies such as the e-business registration system, the paperless port clearance system, the digital property address system and mobile interoperability, with linkages to the databases of institutions such as the Police Service and the Passport Office, have been introduced,” he said.

He warned that while taking measures to digitise the economy and improve the quality of life of the people, if measures were not put in place, Ghana could witness upscaled cyber security challenges.

“We are mindful of the dark side of digitisation; that is, cyber crimes, cyber espionage, cyber war and terrorism, among others,”  he said.

In Ghana, he said, there had been abortive cyber attacks on some financial institutions and, therefore, commended the ingenuity of cyber experts and the security services for foiling such attacks.

President Akufo-Addo cited the cyber attack on the IT system of Mearsk, the world's largest container shipping vessel operator, by hackers, leading to a complete shutdown of the company for some days.

"Mearsk's saving grace was one lone surviving domain controller in a remote location in Ghana.

Apparently, according to reports, that one computer in Ghana, which was located in Tema, at the time of the cyber attack was off because of power outage in the area and, as such, had not been infected.

"Mearsk was able to retrieve its data and restore information because of that one computer located here in Ghana.

It goes to show you how interconnected the world is and the importance we need to attach to this new global threat,” he said.

Sakawa

In the past decade, President Akufo-Addo observed, cyber fraud, popularly known as 'sakawa', had engaged the attention of the youth, who exhibited a high level of technical expertise in their illegal dealings.

"With 10 million Ghanaians connected to the Internet and about 4.9 million people on Facebook, the impact of any cyber attack on our e-business platform will impact negatively on businesses and on the lives of many Ghanaians," the President said.

Combating cyber crime

For her part, the Minister of Communications, Mrs Ursula Owusu-Ekuful, who took the gathering through the way Ghana was taking steps to be a leading example in the fight against cyber crime in West Africa, said Ghana had made some strides in combating cyber crime.

That, she said, had led to the European Union (EU) using Ghana as training ground for other judicial staff in Africa.

Awareness campaign
 
The National Cyber Security Awareness Month (NCSAM) is organised by the Ministry of Communications, in collaboration with the National Cyber Security Secretariat, to promote better cyber security practices, in line with the government's vision of creating a secure cyber space for businesses and citizens.

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