Sunday, November 18, 2018
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By Divine Ntaryike Jr — Cameroon has hardly been spared the blazing internet vogue.  More and more individuals, businesses, government institutions and private organizations are going online and creating websites to better communicate, conduct business and interact with people in all parts of the globe. 

On the sidelines, the government has been setting up multimedia centers in remote areas and fitting the country with optic fiber cables to boost users’ access to modern communications. But experts are warning that beneath the laudable efforts, lurks certain danger for the entire country.

Claude Essomba, a cyber security expert says increasingly, hackers are penetrating and seizing control of Cameroonian websites.  In 2009, internet security watchdog McAfee named Cameroon as home to the world’s riskiest websites.  Experts say the trend is persisting with hundreds of sites including some belonging to government ministries, banks, newspapers and charity organizations recurrently hacked.

Essomba says apathy towards embracing security precautions by Cameroonian website owners and their developers is largely to blame.  “It is increasing at all levels – banks, administrations, private companies, everyone is a target here depending on the hack-motive of the person looking at your website,” he told reporters at a news conference held in the economic capital Douala on February 13.

Global Enterprise Technology and Security, GETSEC, created by Essomba says some 1,000 billion USD are lost to cyber-criminality daily worldwide.  The internet security watchdog notes that the escalating vulnerability of Cameroonian websites could result in untold misfortune anytime and at very short-notice.

“The problem of cybersecurity in Cameroon is extremely urgent.  If the government infrastructure is touched, and if you cannot pay salaries, it’s a big problem.  If your system is attacked, planes cannot start, TV cannot work and you cannot take your money from the bank.  This is really an issue for everybody,” Essomba warned.

Over the past couple of months, Essomba has been leading efforts to sensitize Cameroonian website owners on the looming dangers.  Through workshops and seminars, he has been showcasing his company’s solutions including an application dubbed IndusGuard. It scans websites, analyzing vulnerability levels, auditing web applications and monitoring malware presence to ensure they are protected against hackers.

“In order to help the public to prevent this propagation of cyber-attacks, the first level is training.  People need to be aware.  Most of the companies and government institutions are not aware of how problematic is this issue of cybersecurity.  What GETSEC is doing now is to bring services to help.  Cybersecurity services should be available for almost everybody,” Essomba explained.  He says recruiting internet security experts can be very costly, with monthly salaries beginning as from 400,000 FCFA.  According to him, GETSEC is offering cheaper rates and various bundles ranging from monthly to yearly scans at very affordable rates with the goal democratizing access to cybersecurity in Cameroon.

Meantime, Parliament adopted a law in 2010 to regulate the expanding cyberculture in the country.  The national information and communication technology agency, ANTIC, is planning to begin implementation.  One aspect of that law will oblige all website owners to regularly conduct analyses and audits to help secure the country’s cyberspace, which the government has now listed among top national sovereignty features to be jealously guarded and controlled.

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