The Inquirer is a leading independent daily newspaper published in Liberia, based in Monrovia. It is privately owned with a "good reputation".

Cybercrimes Has Increased Considerably In Liberia’s Cyberspace

By: Willie Bee Tingba, Jr
Digital Advocate
Republic of Liberia

There is an urgent need for the government of Liberia through the above mentioned government Ministries, Agency and Commission (MAC) to speedily adopt a Policy and Strategy that’d be used to protect our vulnerable cyberspace. This harmful phenomenon, which is none than cyber-attacks, cyberbullies, cyber threats, cyber wars etc. pose enough problems for the security of states, organizations, and individuals and, above all, the digital economy.

Today, internet is widely used by all of the people in Liberia and partly rural Liberia. The Internet makes the work of people easier and faster. We can do many things using the internet. The internet is truly an information superhighway because we can find much information about things through the use of the internet even the information of other people.

In the early 2000s, the focus of ICTs in Africa was on expanding Internet access. With the advent of submarine fiber optics Internet transit, countries within the Africa region has access to high-speed broadband at reasonable prices. The focus on access today is the rollout of terrestrial fiber optics backbone in countries.

The availability of Internet access means more people today have access to the Internet. The expansion of Internet access has brought with it risks of attack from a person with disruptive tendencies to dupe other Internet users and commit cybercrimes. These disruptive activities by cyber-criminal have caused the debate on cyber security to be on the top of the agenda for almost every African country and many countries are planning policies and strategies to combat cybercriminals. Several Global activities are taking place around the fight against cybercriminals and cyber security. The ITU’s IMPACT program is providing several member countries early warning systems on cybercrimes and is helping these member countries secure their cyberspace.

According to study, cybercrime is a criminal activity that is carried out by means of using the computer, smartphone, tablet, and the internet. Cybercrime can be a serious crime when people use the internet to get the personal information of a person and use it to steal something from them. That is why it is important for us to have a policy and strategy on cybercrime in Liberia.

Cybercrime can take many forms like Identity theft, Ransomware, DDoS attacks, Botnets, Spam and Phishing, Social Engineering, Malvertising, Potentially Unwanted Programs (PUP), Drive-By-Downloads, Remote Administration Tools (RAT), Exploit Kits, Scams and many more.

After what I have said, according to the LTA report, the use of broadband data service in Liberia has increased substantially. The mobile penetration rate is about 75.8%. Liberia’s dependency on broadband is significant with the presence of two giant telecommunication companies MTN & Orange. As Liberia enjoys a significant share of the Africa Coast to Europe submarine fiber (ACE), E-Government applications in the financial, banking and educational sectors are being utilized or established.

However, Liberia has become aware of the threat of cybercrime that is affecting countries and companies globally. Amidst an infrastructure that is recovering from civil war and the Ebola virus, Liberia has a high vulnerability to cyber-attack. In 2016, one of Liberia’s mobile operators (MTN Liberia) was attacked with malware – DDS (distributive denial of service). As a result of this attack, E-Government applications, like the banking and financial sectors were seriously hampered. The attack clearly indicated the urgent need for Liberia to institute measures to mitigate the effects of cyber-attacks.

Liberia’s vulnerability to cybercrime is compounded by several factors, including the lack of awareness of cybercrime and the lack of a national legal and regulatory framework. Some entities in Liberia have now become cognizant of the need to provide public awareness campaigns to sensitize stakeholders on cybersecurity. The Ministry of Post & Telecommunications, with help from the Digital Liberia Project intends to carry out public awareness and sensitivity campaigns for this purpose.

Recently, the Liberia Telecommunications Corporation (LIBTELCO) hosted the second Cyber Security Forum to deliberate on the establishment of a national cyber-security policy and strategy against external invaders. The forum focused on creating awareness for cybersecurity and its implication for the government, the business, and society. Although the Liberian Government recognizes the threat posed by cybercrime on the global community, Liberia has no national legislation on cybercrime.

Some institutions like the Central Bank of Liberia and the Ministry of Post and Telecommunications have developed policies aimed at preventing or mitigating the effects of cybercrime. The Cyber Security Policy at the CBL is a formal set of rules by which authorized users of the different technologies and systems are governed.

The main purpose is to inform users: employees, contractors and other authorized users of their obligatory requirements for protecting the technology and information assets used to facilitate their work. The National Telecommunications and ICT Policy 2010-2015 was developed by the Ministry of Post and Telecommunication. However, the policy does not discuss elements related to cyber offenses and cybercrime.

Clearly in conclusion, with the rapid rate at which technology is advancing, Liberia’s current ICT infrastructure needs to be rebuilt and improved to make it compatible with modern standards. In addition to rebuilding the system to meet modern standards and increased capacity to deal with cybercrime issues, there is a need for increased training in technical and legal human capacity to provide expertise in dealing with cybercrime. Technical assistance for trained Liberians in cyber-attack prevention and remedy are highly desired.

Let me stop here by saying that technology is here to stay, we cannot escape from it, let’s get used to it.

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    Hello my friend! I wish to say that this post is awesome, great written and come with approximately all vital infos. I would like to see more posts like this .

    1. Willie Bee Tingba, Jr says

      Thanks for the sentiment, Mr. Wasiuta. I appreciate!

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