A Cyber security expert and the Team Leader of Ghana Chapter of Open Web Application Security Project (OWASP), Mr Ash Dastmalchi, has said internet-based fraudsters in the country, popularly referred to as “Sakawa” boys, could be used to combat cyber security threats in the country if their talents were duly harnessed.
He descibed those engaged in Sakawa as “full of untapped talent" which when fine-tuned and exploited, could benefit the country in the fight against cyber security and related threats.
"When these talents do not find jobs, they start going the wrong way into ‘yahoo, yahoo’ activities, but if we are able to manage such talents well, these guys could become cyber security analysts, getting top security jobs in the banks and defending the country against insider and outsider cyber-attacks," Mr Dastmalchi added.
The expert was speaking in an interview with the Daily Graphic during an application security event organised by OWASP at the University of Ghana in Accra.
The event attracted scores of mobile and computer web application developers, programmers and hackers among others.
Participants were taken through the nuances of Cross Site Scripting (XSS), which is a common attack vector that injects malicious code into a vulnerable web application, according to a security researcher, Adam Nurudini.
Another computer expert, Archzilon Eshun-Davies also took the participants through what to do when a website or web application was hacked.
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Mr Dastmalchi also stated that, enforcing the laws on cyber security was not an effective way of dealing with the internet fraud situation in the country but, rather, there was the need for more sensitisation and harnessing of talents of Sakawa boys for useful purposes.
"You need to build a culture to raise that sort of awareness because education works," he added.
The expert further observed that even though there was a computer science course with some elements of cyber security being taught in some universities in the country, the Ghanaian educational system lacked the verve for cyber security education as there was no dedicated course of study for it in any of the tertiary institutions.
He, however, commended the government for showing interest in cyber security with its annual National Cyber Security awareness month programme organised by the Ministry of Communications.
OWASP is a global foundation of professional software security experts with local chapters across the world. The foundation is open to anyone interested in learning more about software security and web application development.
The Ghana Chapter is headed by Mr Ash Dastmalchi and Mr Hassan Abudu. The chapter meets a number of times in a year at different locations in the country to organise seminars on software security and related programmes.