The advent of COVID-19 has created unprecedented short and long term challenges across all sectors globally, pushing more and more employees to work online, a cybersecurity webinar has heard.
But while digital technologies have proven key to mitigating the negative impact of the crisis, there cannot be denying the risks associated with this digital transformation. The webinar was hosted by the Ministry of Transport and Communications under the theme, Building Cyber Resilience in Times of Uncertainty: Lessons from the COVID-19 Pandemic”.
The European Union Ambassador to Botswana and SADC, Jan Sadek, said both the European Union and the Government of Botswana recognise the digital sector as one of the fastest evolving economic and social areas worldwide that creates opportunities for sustainable development and inclusive growth.
But while the digital sector has a great potential to improve citizens’ lives in Botswana and around the globe, it is also important to realise that there are risks associated with the digital transformation. These risks, Sadek said, should be prevented and fought. “I understand from the organisers of this event that there has been a rise in malicious attacks during this pandemic,” he noted.
“This is a growing phenomenon that can disrupt not only businesses and our personal systems but also the supply of essential services that we take for granted, such as water or electricity, or even an operation theatre at a hospital. Therefore, it is of utmost importance to protect the Internet from cybersecurity incidents, malicious activities and misuse.”
Ambassador Sadek disclosed that Botswana has been chosen as one of three original partners in the EU’s Cyber Resilience for Development (Cyber4Dev) programme which has been running since 2019. The programme has assisted the Botswana Communications Regulatory Authority (BOCRA) establish and train the country’s first Computer Security Incident Response Team (CSIRT).
The Minister of Transport and Communications, Thulaganyo Merafe Segokgo, assured Batswana of protection of their rights as they traverse cyberspace. The National Cybersecurity Strategy has been devised to educate Batswana on issues of cybersecurity, build local capacity to fight and mitigate cyber threats, and protect the country’s critical infrastructure, Minister Segokgo told the webinar.
“We can never find a long-lasting solution to cyber attacks without nurturing and building a vibrant cybersecurity industry, he said. “As a government, we are committed to working with the private sector to produce local solutions to mitigate myriads of attacks that our people face.”
The minister continued: “We are equally committed to capacitate our university to develop into a centre of excellence that produces high-grade cybersecurity graduates and technicians. Public and private enterprises must leverage strategic partnerships with the international community to benchmark and develop the technical skills necessary to safeguard our cyberspace.”
“Our people ask questions about the security of their communication that demand answers and assurances from us. They want us to guarantee that they will not be undue victims of fraud, identity theft, bullying, and harassment as they go online to socialise, trade, shop, and work.” The webinar marked culmination of a month-long public education and awareness campaign on cyber security.