Ghana lost US$97m to cybercrime related activities between 2016 – 2018, with only 5.7% of the reported fraud cases undergoing investigations, Director of the Cyber Crime Unit of the Criminal Investigation Department (CID), Dr. Herbert Gustav Yankson, has revealed.

The increase in cybercrime, he noted, can be attributed to inaccurate SIM registration and the lack of mechanisms to authenticate them and increased internet penetration and its attendant increased social media usage.

The CID estimate that over 10 million Ghanaians spend averagely four hours a day on various social media platforms including Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram, and Twitter among others.

“This figure, represents 35 percent of the internet penetration rate of Ghana’s population. With this development, there has been an increase in the rate of cybercrimes as criminals have reinvented themselves to take advantage of vulnerable people,” Dr. Yankson said.

He was speaking on the topic: ‘Security Agencies Response to Cyber Crimes’, as part of the 2018 National Cyber Security Awareness Month (NCSAM) held in Accra,

He therefore, emphasized the need to incorporate all Ghana’s IT laws under one umbrella for easy reference, to assist in the fight against cyber fraud in the country.

“We need to do a massive awareness campaign to sensitize the general public against cybercrime. We also need to establish a cybercrime directorate to monitor, investigate and recommend solutions to the various challenges associated with cyber fraud”, he added

On her part, the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, Shirley Ayorkor Botchway, indicated that when individuals or groups from one country targets cyber infrastructure and data of another country, it has serious implications for the relations that exist between those countries.

She cited the recent Russian cyber-attacks, which targeted the 2016 US presidential election, the hacking of key installations in the United Kingdom and the threats by Argentine hackers to hack Ghana Government websites following a court decision to impound an Argentine ship in Ghana.

“Currently, it is estimated that at least a third of the human population have access to active internet connectivity with a further 1.5 billion people projected to come online by 2020. This, of course, makes hacking an extremely powerful tool for gaining diplomatic, political and defence advantage.

The growing number of active internet users and millions of IP addresses make tracking of cyber criminals difficult. The sensitive nature of the subject we are dealing with and its ramifications for national security is what has given the President the impetus to directly take charge on this policy initiative.”

Ghana, she said, was being commended as a pacesetter on the cyber security issues in Africa. “It is therefore not surprising, that a number of African countries are already seeking Ghana’s assistance in this area. Cyber defence is now an indispensable part of our foreign policy, and the growing development of cyber laws and regulatory directives at international fora lends credence to the importance of cyber security,” she emphasized.

Ms. Botchway added that: “The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration believes that we must have access to cyberspace but use it responsibly. Where this access is abused, there must, be punitive measures to deter errant behaviour.

We must deepen our efforts on building the confidence and creating a cyber-culture that places the burden of responsibility on the user. Consistent awareness creation and the development of resilient strategies would in my opinion support and develop our cyber-culture.”

“We would continue to seek the support and expertise of the United Nations in the fight against cybercrime. The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime is a repository of laws, cases and lessons learned on cybercrime and electronic evidence which lawmakers, for instance, can draw upon in drafting appropriate legislation on cybercrime,” she said.

Minister for Interior, Ambrose Dery, also admonished law enforcement agencies to take advantage of technological driven courses to equip themselves to support the security sector in addressing the high rate of cybercrime. He said fighting crime in all forms was commendable but predicting the crime before it happens is the best approach.

He said, it’s imperative that Ghana’s security agencies were well equipped with the necessary skills and knowledge to battle the crimes that will arise from the implementation of these systems.

“Today, technology has made it possible for the security agencies to track cyber fraudsters. In view of this, it is equally important that you equip yourselves better in technology-oriented courses to be able to manage and deal with rising cases of cybercrimes”, he said.

He also noted that an efficient cyber security strategy that incorporates the law enforcement agencies and key actors within the private sector will reduce the numerous cybercrimes in Ghana’s digital ecosystem and further ease burden of our security services.

According to him, cybercrime gained its prominence in Ghana at a time when the agencies responsible for investigating, controlling and apprehending online criminals did not have the necessary technical knowledge to tackle the problem. The security agencies, he said were unable to act alone and would therefore need the help of other agencies to suppress and effectively deal with the menace.

He however, proposed the strengthening of a legal framework which will arrest, search and seize digital devices for forensic analysis. “My Ministry is engaging with the Inspector-General of Police at the inter-ministerial advisory council level to set up a state-of-the-art forensic laboratory law enforcement response to cyber-crimes,” Mr. Dery stated.

“The CID is also engaging with the Interpol and the Council of Europe to design a training programme on cybercrimes that will be incorporated into the curriculum of the Ghana Police College. This initiative is expected to deliver training on cybercrime especially, cyber incident response and complain handling to all serving police officers to ensure effective response to the menace,” the Interior Minister stressed.

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