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Ghana faces cyberattack threat ahead of December elections - ACDT

The Africa Centre for Digital Transformation (ACDT) has warned of potential cyber threats to Ghana's December 7 elections, urging stakeholders to take immediate action to safeguard the electoral process.

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The ACDT, in a press statement, highlighted the growing risk of cyber-attacks as digital systems become increasingly integral to Ghanaian society, including its electoral processes. The organization emphasized the national importance of addressing these threats to ensure the integrity and security of the upcoming elections.

The ACDT's concerns are based on a series of cyber incidents that have affected elections in West Africa in recent years. 

During the 2015 and 2019 elections in Nigeria, cyber-attacks targeted the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), attempting to hack into databases and spread disinformation. Although some systems were compromised, INEC maintained that these attacks did not impact overall election results. In 2018, cyber-attacks aimed at Sierra Leone's National Electoral Commission (NEC) sought to disrupt the electoral process and manipulate public perception. The government responded by enhancing cybersecurity measures to protect the election. 

The statement alleged that Ghana's 2016 elections saw the Electoral Commission's website attacked, causing temporary shutdowns. It said in the 2020 elections, numerous cyber threats prompted increased cybersecurity efforts by the National Communications Authority (NCA) and the Cybersecurity Authority.

To mitigate these risks, the ACDT recommends strengthening cybersecurity infrastructure, involving regular security audits and penetration testing. 

It further recommends capacity building and training for electoral officials and IT personnel on cybersecurity best practices as well as public awareness campaigns to educate the public on recognizing and avoiding misinformation and promoting digital literacy. 

It also wants the state to develop incident response plans and regularly update them to address and mitigate any cyber incidents promptly.

The Executive Director of ACDT, Kwesi Atuahene stressed the importance of cybersecurity in ensuring a secure, transparent, and credible electoral process. 

"As we approach the 2024 elections, we must be prepared to counter cyber threats and protect the integrity of our electoral systems," Mr. Atuahene said.

The ACDT is committed to supporting the Ghanaian government, the Electoral Commission, and all stakeholders in this effort, urging them to prioritize cybersecurity and work collaboratively to protect Ghana’s democracy from cyber threats.

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