Southern Africa: Region Cracks Down on Cyber Crime

Computing

Southern Africa is taking steps to respond to rising cyber crime, which is now among the world's fastest growing crimes.

Cyber crime involves use of the computer networks to harm the reputation of individuals or organisations and includes copyright infringement, fraud, hacking, account thefts, identify thefts, computer viruses and unsolicited mail, commonly referred to as spam.

Using modern telecommunication networks such as emails, chat rooms and social networks, cybercrime has threatened world's security and financial health.

Cyber crime is estimated to cause losses of more than US$105 billion worldwide every year. In 2010 alone, at least 280 million web attacks were committed on individuals and organisations, an increase of about 93 percent compared to the previous year, according to a report by the Global Cyber Security Agenda.

This trend is expected to continue in 2012, and Africa is set to face new and increased attacks due to a rise in Internet accessibility.

To meet these challenges, members of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) are strengthening their legal frameworks to fight cyber crimes and ensure that citizens safely conduct their transactions on the Internet.

The urgency is necessitated by the fact that most governments in the region are in transition to "paperless" operations, which involve the use of the Internet and computers.

All the 15 SADC countries either have or are crafting cyber crime legislation to curb computer-related crimes.

A recent SADC meeting on the harmonised cyber security legal framework held in Gaborone, Botswana heard that four countries already have cyber crimes laws. These are Botswana, Mauritius, South Africa and Zambia.

The other 11 member states are either developing cyber crime legislations or have started national consultations on the matter.