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Taste of Cyber Crime in Developing Nations - The Ugandan Version

During the online classes on cyber security at Diplo Foundation a lot was discussed about cyber security and cyber crime. At that time most of the discussion points seemed alien to some of us from developing countries, sorry my country Uganda is not a developing nation but an underdeveloped country with out a cyber security team in police, no CERT teams whatsoever in the nation and a very naive society as regards cyber security. Most of the points of discussion were theories in Uganda, with some formulated guidelines but nothing practical done. Whenever it came to practical examples as regards cyber security, I always had to borrow some from Kenya, our eastern Neighbour.

In just a flash of time, here we are talking about the practicability of cyber security and having life scaring occurrences of cyber crime. A 26 year old girl was kidnapped and whisked away by unknown individuals because of a promised cup of coffee from a facebook chat. People have lost thousands of dollars to unknown individuals who use legitimate email accounts of friends portraying a dangerous situation a friend is going through thus soliciting for funds. Mobile Money, a Mobile cellular service for transfer of money in Uganda, being used to cheat non-suspecting individuals and many more stories that come in a form of 'too good to be true' wins.

The ICT society in Uganda, I should say, has always ignored most of the cyber crime scenarios not because they were petty but because few involved risk to life. A day when a story about the disappearance of a girl come to media, most of the ICT discussion forums developed ideas on how ICT can be used to or otherwise find solution to the rampant cyber crimes in the country and to the suprise of many of us, almost all people had knowledge of the other cyber crimes.

A lot has been said but as members suggested the Uganda police as a centre for solution development. The naked truth which actually hurts came to surface about this point. The national ICT Infrastructure doesn't have systems whatsoever to fight cyber crime. The Police at this time of the day, which is supposed to be spearheading the initiatives for cyber security is still planning on training a critical mass of specialists in cyber security. The Ministry of ICT, that is supposed to think about a National CERT has some thing on paper but nothing physical. It was further discovered that as regards the ministry of finance's commitment towards development of ICTs in the Country through the budgetary allocations, it is still hard for a national body to think about Computer Emergency Response Teams and investments in Cyber security, besides, it has no direct inflows for the country.

In the absence of funds and technical capacity by government and cooperate bodies to fight cyber crime, what are we left for? Should Uganda become a fertile land for cyber crime? Should all cyber criminals relocate to underdeveloped nations like Uganda? The answer is No, and a Big No.

Uganda through education and sensitization can fight cyber crime. As Michelle Rhee

said that the most sustainable way of fighting poverty is through education, I also say that the most sustainable way and method for fighting cyber crime is through education and sensitization of the general mass. We only need to make cyber crime the least profitable business, and trust me, no one will be willing to invest in it. We can only make it least profitable by minimising the would be clientèle. Which is only done through sensitization of the general population to detect and avoid cyber crime.

I would at this moment want to quote one of the contributors; “In times past, mothers and aunties taught their pre-pubescent daughters not go to the well alone, or talk to strangers on the way there. Have the reasons for these admonitions been erased by the coming of modernity?” Literally meaning that in Africa we have always had our own ways of averting normal crime by staying away from possible crime or its source, possibly through taking strangers by caution. This is no longer the way we behave. The y-generation has this power 'to find out', even when the finding involves going through a populated Den. May be if we also revisited our African methods of parenting and applied some of the principles not the methods directly however, some of these cyber crimes will be avoided.

I finally smell, at the end of the day, the solution to cyber crime, particularly the one that targets us common individuals is not technology but vigilance and being on a look out of any abnormal occurrences.

Did I make my point noticeable? I am not sure but I believe other people have some techniques of helping out our naïve society as regards this fresh problem.

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