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Cybersecurity challenges of developing countries

Developing countries are in dire need of cybersecurity experts and could benefit from training from western professionals.

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The developing world has joined western communities in relying on Information & Communication Technology (ICT) to engender development and improve social welfare. In developing countries, ICT is pivotal in improving the populations’ quality of life and economic growth.

This global shift has made the control of cyberspace a widespread conflict. To be able to access cyberspace, the developing world is required to use and rely on services made by the developed world. This has made developing countries dependent on western-designed rules and codes to protect their own cyberspace.

The boom in internet use over the past two decades has been astounding. Between 2000 and 2010, the internet has gone from having 360 million users to 2 billion users. This spike in usage stems from the increased ease of internet use, as well as a perceived sense of interconnectivity safety. However, as parties battle to control cyberspace, agents have arisen with alternative and threatening methods of acquiring power and resources.

As the internet has no borders, cybercriminals have been incredibly difficult to catch, punish or discourage. In particular, developing countries feel the brunt of these difficulties because they lack the infrastructure or the resources to protect their networks.

Cyber Threats To Consider

The importance of cybersecurity stems from the “wildfire” effect any major cyber attack can have. An attack on one nation can easily spread to other nations and impact all aspects of our lives – from banking to hospital records. The benefits of interconnectivity do not come without the risks of information warfare.

Cyber threats arise from a variety of sources:

  • Business competitors
  • Corrupt employees
  • Criminal organizations
  • Terrorists
  • Foreign nations partaking in espionage

The motivation behind cyberattacks can be anything from financial gain to political advantage.

The risks of cyber threats from developing countries are heightened because they generally do not have the means to effectively regulate internet use on their soil. “Hackers” frequently opt to remain hosted in developing nations but target the western countries for money or political leverage.

2013 saw one of the biggest cyberattack cases in history when 5 alleged hackers stole the information of 160 million credit cards, which they used to plunder hundreds of millions of dollars. The alleged hackers are Russian and Ukrainian nationals who targeted American credit card users.

In some cases, “hacktivist” groups choose to strike in developing countries, generally for political gain. In 2014, members of the “hacker” group Anonymous attacked the Zimbabwean Ministry Of Defence, and the involved individuals are yet to be charged. Meanwhile, their neighboring South Africa has been striving to improve its cybersecurity, and studies have shown a level of success in its endeavors.

Risks Of Cyber Threats

Cyber threats can have long term nefarious consequences on businesses, economies, and welfare. Accessing a person or businesses’ Intellectual Property can lead to identity theft, which can cause substantial financial loss, lower quality of service, the production of counterfeit goods, and problems in international trade.

It’s particularly essential to consider these risks now that the developing world hosts the most mobile phone users in the world. By 2014, 55% of smartphone users were in the developing world. However, local ICT awareness and protective laws to regulate cyberspaces haven’t necessarily evolved accordingly. This has created ideal environments for cybercriminals in developing countries, who attack companies and individuals on poorly secured networks.

Research has ascertained that most computers in developing countries are at risk of cyber attacks and that the local IT security awareness is below “a reasonable threshold.” Most of these countries do not have Computer Incident Response Teams. Therefore cybercriminals are rarely pursued and prosecuted.

As countries in Asia attempt to develop as fast as their populations are growing, it is vital to understand that cybersecurity is necessary to their advancement. While some might feel that other welfare issues, such as hunger or growing poverty levels, should be addressed first, one mustn’t overlook how cybercrime hinders development.

Non-secured networks not only make international trade challenging, but they also discourage investment. As the world moves to a cashless system and governments encourage the use of the virtual payment, being at greater threat of information and identity theft can prevent countries from joining the western world in this change. This can widen the economic rift between rich and developing countries, which poses an ethical issue that requires a rapid acknowledgment and response.

A Final Word

Interconnectivity is an essential part of our lives. However, the digital age could leave behind those unable to protect themselves in their use of networks. Developing countries are in dire need of cybersecurity experts and could benefit from training from western professionals.

This moral investment could allow developing nations the chance to be more efficient and have greater social welfare. To achieve this, means should be given to developing countries to improve their judiciary approach to cybercrime, and law enforcement should have the relevant awareness.

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