WEF: Cyber criminals thrive because Africans don’t trust their governments

cybercrime and trust

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Lack of trust by African citizens and businesses on their governments creates a big chance for cyber criminals to capitalize on the gap. In the fight for safe internet, the citizens would rather take their chances with the consequences of cybercrime than share personal information with their governments.

Analysts at the just concluded World Economic Forum on Africa in Kigali last week warned that mistrust could make Africans be a major victim of cyber crime in coming years. The lack of trust some Africans have for their governments runs deep, particularly in countries where the leadership has been repressive or autocratic and stems from fears officials may be spying on citizens.

“There is a huge lack of information sharing due to absence of trust between the private and public sector which is affecting the fight against cyber crimes” said Jean-Luc Vez, the head of public security policy and security affairs at the World Economic Forum.

He said the reason for the mistrust is that “some countries go on scrutinizing and spying on their citizens which makes it hard for the private sector to share information,” adding that it difficult for people to draw a distinction between the needs of national security and combating cyber crimes.

 “To deal with cyber crime, we had to start with dealing with problems that existed way before the internet, like corruption, bribery, pornography among others, then we went to cyber crimes” said Vez

Ivory Coast is another country which has greatly been affected by cyber crime. “The image of Ivory coast has heavily suffered at the hands of cyber criminals” said Bruno Nabagné Koné, the country’s information technology and communications minister.

“Trust has been very minimal in Africa, it is a big challenge if we are to address cyber crime,” he added.

Lack of trust may not be confined only to Africa, reports list a lack of trust between telecoms companies, consumers and app makers of communications tools such as WhatsApp and Facebook. Last month WhatsApp started encrypting all messages so its engineers wouldn’t be able to read those messages even if ordered to do so by a court.

Further reporting on Quartz

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