Cybercrime on the increase in SADC region

WINDHOEK: Southern Africa is experiencing a significant increase in crimes involving computers and the Internet that are damaging their economies and securities.

The global reach of the Internet enables individuals, criminal organisations and terrorists located anywhere in the world to use computers to harm societies, businesses and the securities of countries.

A three-day workshop on cybercrime investigation and electronic evidence is currently taking place in Windhoek.

It was organised with the help of the American government and is being attended by participants from Botswana, Lesotho, Mauritius, Mozambique, the Seychelles, South Africa, Swaziland, Zambia and Namibia.

Participants are learning techniques for using cyber tools and methods to investigate crime, as well as how to collect and analyse digital evidence.

During the workshop, participants will also be introduced to online investigations, forensic analysis and searching and seizing computers and mobile phones involved in criminal activity.

Law-enforcement experts will also explore some of the legal and procedural issues related to using electronic evidence in criminal proceedings.

Speaking at the official opening of the workshop on Monday, Prosecutor-General Martha Imalwa said there is a need for the establishment of a harmonised cyber law and handling of electronic evidence in order to make the fight of both civil and criminal cases easier as it is not confined to individual countries.

“We hope to achieve this by modelling our law on the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Model Law on Cybercrime,” she said.

Imalwa explained that the purpose of the SADC model law is to provide a legal framework for the criminalisation and investigation of computer and network-related offences, such as cybercrime.

The Act aims to criminalise a wide range of illegal activities or content in line with regional and international best practices and to provide the necessary specific procedural mechanisms for the investigation of such offences.

“Cyber security plays a fundamental role in the continuing development of information technology and Internet services,” the prosecutor-general said.

At the same occasion, Unites States (US) Ambassador to Namibia Thomas Daughton said interconnectedness facilitated by new technology carries infinite promise, but it also brings peril.

“Being interconnected with the rest of the world means being vulnerable. No one is immune. Criminal gangs and organisations search continually for more and more sophisticated ways to use technology tools such as malware and botnets to obtain and exploit information,” he said.

Daughton explained that cybercrimes have the potential to threaten a nation’s security and financial health.

“Happily, the same modern communication systems that criminals use to commit cybercrimes also leave perceptible tracks leading back to the criminals. It is those unavoidable and unerasable tracks and traces that law enforcement around the world can use to catch and prosecute cyber criminals,” he stated.

In bringing together law-enforcement experts from southern African countries for the workshop, Daughton said, the American Government hopes to help foster stronger law-enforcement colleagues from around the region.

The workshop ends on Thursday.