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Collaborate or bust – Africa needs to coordinate response to cybercrime

Africa must coordinate response to cybercrime

Countries in Africa have been urged to establish Computer Incident Response Teams (CIRT) and Cybersecurity Emergency Response Teams (CERT) to tackle an increase in cybercrime.

According to Africa Cybersecurity Report 2017 by Serianu, cybercrime cost the continent US$ 3.5 billion in 2017.

Speaking at the Africa Cyber Defense Summit in Nairobi, Kaleem Usmani, Head of Mauritian CERT National Computer Board, said that only 18 out of 54 African countries have set up their response teams, leaving the majority without the ability to co-ordinate a response in the event of a cyber attack.

Usmani said for a continent of over 450 million internet users, the number of CIRT and CERT teams is low. "These are the teams that help governments look at cyber security matters and find a fix."

Vincent Ngundi, Head of National KE-CIRT (Computer Incident Response Team) and Cybersecurity Committee at the Communication Authority of Kenya (CA), said that collaboration between the private and public sectors could help build capacity for the incidence response teams.

"If you look at Africa, almost ninety percent of the infrastructure is owned by the private sector," said Ngundi. "What we have done as a country is to encourage sector-based CIRT teams. We realised that companies in the same sector feel comfortable sharing information among themselves. A certain level of threat response should be done at that level."

The National response team coordinates a threat response if an incident affects another sector, he said.

Ngundi added that having a team in place would build trust within the private sector and thereby encourage the free flow of information share and a faster overall response.

Ngundi cautioned that training and capacity building is needed to emphasise the importance of collaboration under sector-based CIRTs.

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