Cybercrime: elephant in the Namibian House

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By Lahja Nashuuta

Windhoek - Namibia has been advised to speed up the passing of the overdue Cybersecurity Act to pave way for law enforcement agencies and law lords to be able to investigate and prosecute cybercrimes being committed in the country.

Namibia has been known as a safe haven for cybercriminals. Many cybercriminals who committed cybercrimes are still roaming freely in the country as there is no legal framework to prosecute them.

Speaking during a Cyber Security Workshop for parliamentarians hosted by the Namibia University of Science and Technology (NUST) in collaboration with the US Embassy last week Thursday, Pravesh Behari, a Cybercrime Investigator for Mauritius Police Cybercrime Unit, said lack of technical know-how in terms of cybersecurity and inability to monitor and defend national networks have made most of the African countries vulnerable to cyberespionage, as well as to incidences of cyberterrorism.

Behari advised Namibia to fast-track the passing of Cybercrimes Bill to give law enforcement guides on how to identify threats, defend against vulnerabilities, investigate incidents, harden their networks, educate the next generation and safeguard valuable information using cutting-edge strategies and state-of-the-art techtools.

He said the absence of cybercrime laws put pressure on law enforcement agencies tasked with investigating various forms of such crimes and cyber threats coming from criminals and state actors alike. He was of the opinion that once the cybercrime law became effective, it would give guidance to law enforcement officials to be proficient in collecting, handling, and securing this type of evidence and its many novel forms.

Addressing a cybersecurity workshop held at the Namibian parliament last week Thursday, the Deputy Director at the Ministry of Information Communication Technology, Elizabeth Ujarura Kamutuezu confirmed that government data are at risk and internet users are not safe.

Hussin Jazri, an associate professor in the Faculty of Computing and Informatics at NUST, earlier revealed alarming findings of a study conducted by the institution that 70% of Namibians using digital platforms have faced cyber-attacks in one form or another over a period of three months in relation to security risk, intellectual property infringement and protection of personal data.

Cybercriminals target Namibia due to its weak system. 

The country neither has the technical nor the financial capacity to target and monitor electronic exchanges deemed sensitive to national security.

Kamutuezu pointed out that hacking, illegal data acquisition (data espionage), child pornography and xenophobic material, libel and false information, spam, copyright and related offenses, trademark related offenses as the common cybercrimes in Namibia.

She described cybercrime in Namibia as "an elephant in the room” and that the issue of cybercrime is among the top items on the government’s agenda. She said the government will soon pass the Electronic Transaction and Cybercrimes Bill to address problems pertaining to safety and security of digital communications of any mode.

“The Electronic Transaction Bill has been finalised and sent to Cabinet for approval, while the Cybercrime Bill is still in discussion at Parliament level,” she said.

However, she said Namibia is currently using the Namibian Communications Act, 2009, Overarching ICT Policy 2009, Telecommunications Policy, Broadcasting Act 1990, among others, to fight cybercrimes.

Among the government challenges in tacking cybercrimes, Kamutuezu pointed out lack of a legal and regulatory framework to ensure cybersecurity. 

The ICT Deputy Director said there is also lack of information, statistics and records of cybercrimes committed in Namibia due to the absence of laws, lack of capacity and general awareness of cybercrime.

Meanwhile, Namibia members of parliament pledged to develop mechanisms and effective national security strategies as well as conducting awareness-raising campaigns at regional and constituency level to address cybercrimes in the country.

Parliamentarians made remarks during a cybersecurity workshop held at Parliament last week Thursday that brought together 13 digital security experts from across the globe, policymakers, industry leaders, educators, law enforcement and civil society leaders from around southern Africa to share challenges and experiences, and knowledge on how to combat cybercrime at both regional and national level.

 

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