News & Trends
2020-03-11

Title: What’s been done to fight cybercrime in East Africa


Author: The Conversation Africa


Date: 12.03.2019


Abstract:

East Africa attracts millions of tourists every year. Over the past 10 years, its earnings from tourism have doubled. Compared to the rest of Africa, the region is experiencing healthy economic growth. This makes it a promising investment destination.

Factors like regional tourism, movement of workers and technology development have catalysed East African integration and cross-border banking.

Many cross-border banks originate from Kenya with branches across the region. One example is Kenya’s Equity Bank, which relies heavily on digital technology. The digital space has many positive attributes but the threat of cybercrime and insecurity is prevalent.

Uganda lost 42 million shillings to cybercrime in 2017. In 2018, Rwanda lost 6 billion francs. In Kenya, between April and June 2019 alone, the country experienced 26.6 million cyber threats.

Across the region, with the increase of digital banking, financial institutions have become targets. These institutions are attractive to cyber criminals because they hold the biggest cash reserves. Africa’s digital infrastructure is ill-equipped to manage the continent’s growing cyber-security risk.

Equity is a pioneer in online and mobile banking with technology that merges banking and telephony. However, it recently suffered a cyber-attack. Last month, Rwandan authorities arrested a cybercrime syndicate comprising eight Kenyans, three Rwandans and a Ugandan. The syndicate had attempted to hack into the Equity Bank system. The group has been involved in similar attacks in Kenya and Uganda.

Early in the year, Kenya’s director of criminal investigation issued warrants of arrest against 130 suspected hackers and fraudsters for alleged banking fraud.

These incidents show that financial losses to cyber insecurity are a growing threat to East Africa’s economy.

Cybercrime occurs through the use of computers, computer technology or the internet. It often results in identity theft, theft of money, sale of contraband, cyber stalking or disruption of operations.

Within East Africa, Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda are taking steps to manage the huge cybercrime risk. But the cyber attack on Equity Bank is proof that these countries need to do more to protect their financial institutions from massive losses going forward.


Regional instruments

The African Union’s Convention on Cyber Security and Personal Data Protection is East Africa’s overarching policy guideline on cybercrime. It was adopted by member states in 2014. The Convention is similar to the Council of Europe’s Cyber Crime Convention which established a cyber security on the European continent.

Rwanda signed the Convention earlier this year, but it’s the only East African country to have done so.

The Convention requires member states to share responsibility by instituting cyber security measures that consider the correlation between data protection and cybercrime. These measures will keep data safe from cyber criminals and preempt its misuse by third parties. It also encourages the establishment of national computer emergency response teams.

The Convention advocates closer cooperation between government and business.

The Convention also creates a provision for dual criminality. This means that cybercrime suspects can be tried either in the country where the crime was committed or in their home country. This provision is meant to ensure smooth cooperation and sidestep any conflict of laws.

There is also a provision on mutual legal assistance. This allows for member states to share intelligence and collaborate on investigations.

Even though Uganda and Kenya aren’t yet signatories, they have nevertheless been establishing legal and policy frameworks provided for under the convention. Rwanda is doing so too, and as a signatory is one step ahead.


Rwandan approach

In 2015, Rwanda came up with a national cyber security policy that established a National Computer Security and Response Centre. The centre detects, prevents and responds to cyber security threats. And in 2016, the Regulatory Board of Rwanda Utilities rolled out network security regulations to protect the privacy of subscribers. They also empower the government to regulate and monitor internet operators and service providers.

The country also has a National Cyber Contingency Plan to handle cyber crises.

Further, Rwanda’s telecom network security regulations require service providers to secure their services by protecting their infrastructure. Every service provider must be licensed and must guarantee the confidentiality and integrity of their services. They must also set up incident management teams. These teams work with the government to manage cyber security threats effectively.

Additionally, Rwanda passed an information and communication technology law in 2016. This contains provisions on computer misuse and cybercrime which criminalise unauthorised access to data.

The country has managed to build the foundations of a strong regulatory framework. It has also taken measures to raise awareness around cyber security. In fact, in the attack on Equity Bank, the authorities acted on a tip from members of the public.


Kenyan measures

In 2014, Kenya launched its National Cyber Security Strategy to raise cyber security awareness and equip Kenya’s workforce to address cyber security needs.

In line with this strategy, Kenya amended its information and communications law to criminalise unauthorised access to computer data.

Kenya has also set up a national computer incident response coordination centre to consolidate key cyber infrastructure and create pathways for regional and international partnership.

Generally, Kenya has a robust cyber security policy which includes a legal and regulatory framework. The result has been that impending cyber attacks are discovered before massive damage is done and ongoing attacks are rapidly arrested.


Uganda’s security

Uganda has legislation to protect cyber security. This includes the Computer Misuse Act which ensures the safety and security of electronic transactions and information systems, and the Regulation of Interception of Communications Act to monitor suspicious communications. It also has a national computer emergency response team.

This regulatory framework is similar to those in Kenya and Rwanda. But in addition, Uganda has a National Information and Technology Authority that provides technical support and cyber security training. It also regulates standards and utilisation of information technology in both the public and private sectors. These measures have boosted the countries’ cyber security strategy.

While Uganda has these measures in place, Kenya and Rwanda are two of the top three cyber secure countries in Africa.


Moving ahead

Kenya, Uganda, and Rwanda have taken solid steps to harmonise cybersecurity processes, data protection, and collaborative prosecution and investigation measures.

They have criminalised cybercrime and established frameworks to manage cyber attacks. International cooperation within the region has also enhanced cyber security.

2020-03-11
 

Title: Less traditional crime, more cybercrime

Author: Statistics Netherlands


Date: 02.03.2020


Abstract:

Increasingly few people in the Netherlands report falling victim to traditional forms of crime, such as violence, burglary, theft and vandalism. The police also registered fewer of these crimes. Slightly more citizens have fallen victim to cybercrime, however. Statistics Netherlands (CBS) reports this on the basis of the latest Safety Monitor and figures registered by the Dutch national police force.

In 2019, nearly 14 percent of the Dutch population aged 15 years and over (i.e. almost 2 million persons) reported falling victim to one or several types of traditional crime. These included violent crimes (threats, assault and sexual crimes), property crimes (burglary, theft, pickpocketing and robbery) and vandalism (damage caused to vehicles and other personal belongings).

 

Sharpest drop in property crime and vandalism

Between 2012 and 2019, the victimisation rate in traditional crime fell from almost 20 percent to less than 14 percent. The sharpest decrease was recorded in property crime and in vandalism. The share of property crime victims fell from 13 percent in 2012 to 9 percent in 2019. Vandalism victimisation fell from 8 to 5 percent over the same period. Violent crime victimisation did not decline at the same pace. This type of crime is much less prevalent than property crime and vandalism. The victimisation rate in violent crime fell from 2.6 percent (2012) to 2.0 percent (2019).

 

Police registered less traditional crime as well

The drop in traditional crime is also evident from police records. Relative to 2017, there were fewer registered cases of theft, violence and vandalism in 2019. This decline in registered crime corresponds to the falling number of victims. The number of reported incidents of stalking and threats (violent crimes) did increase slightly in 2019.
Theft and burglary cases have declined for several years, while domestic burglaries have even more than halved since 2012. Not all types of theft declined: last year, 1,800 more cases of shoplifting were registered than in the previous year. Furthermore, a rise is seen in reported incidents of vandalism and damage for the first time since 2012.

 

More cybercrime victims

Last year, 13 percent of people aged 15 and over indicated they had been victims of one or more types of cybercrime. This was 12 percent in 2012 and 11 percent in 2017. Cybercrime is crime involving digital forms of identity fraud, purchase and selling fraud, hacking and cyber bullying (defamation, stalking, blackmail and threats of violence committed online).
In registered crime rates, cybercrime is included among offences against property. Since 2017, police crime records have shown a rise in hacking incidents (doubled), identity fraud (+17 percent) and online fraud (+39 percent).

 

Traditional crime declined by over one-third

According to the Safety Monitor, last year’s victimisation rate in traditional crime was down by almost one-third (-31 percent) on 2012. Over the same period, the number of police-recorded crimes declined by 41 percent. The police have observed a rise in other types of crime such as drug-related crime and traffic violations (not measured in the Safety Monitor) since 2018, after years of decline.

 

Less willingness to report

A rising number of victims of traditional crime indicate they did not report or officially report the crime to/with the police. Whereas in 2012, the crime reporting rate stood at 38 percent, this was 32 percent in 2019. Over the same period, the willingness to report declined from 29 to 23 percent. Therefore, two-thirds of the crimes affecting victims in 2019 were not included in the police crime records.

 

Not all crime measured

The Safety Monitor is a population survey which measures victimisation rates for the most common types of traditional crime and cybercrime affecting people in the Netherlands. This news release does not focus on victimless crimes, which are comparatively less prevalent and which generally do not directly affect residents. Examples include drug-related crime, human trafficking, fraud and money laundering. These types of crime may have wide-reaching social impact, however.

 

2019-10-28

 

Title: Cybercrime against women to sexual abuse of boys: What new data in NCRB 2017 covers

Author: The News Minute

 

Date: 10.25.2019

 

Abstract:

The National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) on Monday night published its report on Crime in India in the year 2017. Although it was published over a year after it was supposed to have been released, the report has presented some new data that was not there in previous NCRB reports. Though data on mob lynchings, khap killings and murders committed by influential people has not been included, earlier, many crimes that used to be clubbed have now been separated and the report is more detailed.

 

In its foreword, the NCRB stated that improvements have been undertaken to make the report more comprehensive, informative and useful for the parliamentarians, policy makers, states and union territories, researchers, academicians and other stakeholders. “Data is also now being collected under several SLL (Special and Local Laws) Acts such as The Chit Fund Act, The Prevention of Food Adulteration Act, The Food Safety & Standards Act, Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA), etc,” the report said.

 

Here are the new additions to the NCRB data:

 

Cyber crime against women and children

 

The report for the first time includes data on cyberstalking and cyberbullying of women. A total of 555 cases of cyberstalking and cyberbullying of women have been registered across India in 2017, with Maharashtra registering the most number of cases — 301 — among the states. Andhra Pradesh, with 48 cases, was second, and 27 cases were reported from Telangana and Haryana each, putting them at third place.

The report also mentions cyberstalking and cyberbullying cases against children. A total of seven cases were reported from across India, with three cases being reported from Maharashtra. Across India, a total of 88 cyber crimes against children were reported.

 

Sexual harassment at the work, shelters, and public transport

Under numbers for crimes registered under section 354A (sexual harassment), the NCRB this time has taken cognisance of sexual harassment of women at the workplace, in public transport and in shelter homes for women and children. Instead of just giving one figure for states and cities for cases registered under section 354A, the NCRB also breaks it down into the above categories.

Out of a total of 20,948 sexual harassment cases in India, the incidence was highest in Telangana when it came to sexual harassment at the workplace with 117 cases; Bihar reported the most number of women harassed on public transport (106); Uttar Pradesh had the most women who said they were sexually harassed in shelter homes for women and children (239).

Out of these, maximum sexual harassment was reported on public transport (599 cases), as compared to at work (479) and in shelter homes (544).

However, the numbers indicated under-reporting with many states reporting no sexual harassment in these places.

 

Sexual abuse of boys explicitly documented

 

The annual crime statistics for the National Crime Records Bureau for 2017 explicitly acknowledged for the first time that boys can be victims of child sexual abuse as well. In the cases recorded under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, the NCRB has demarcated how many cases had male victims, though the numbers again suggest under-reporting.

Overall in India, Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh had the highest number of POCSO cases with 5,248 and 4,895 incidents respectively. The other states among the top ten were West Bengal (2,131), Karnataka (1,956), Gujarat (1,697), Chhattisgarh (1,676), Telangana (1,632), Tamil Nadu (1,587), Madhya Pradesh (1,569) and Bihar (1,356).

 

Murder with rape cases reported

 

Unlike 2016, when murder with rape was included under murder, the combination has a separate category in the 2017 NCRB data. Apart from looking at murder with rape, numbers are also given for murder with rape/POCSO adding a nuance to documenting violent sexual crimes against women and children.

While a total of 151 children were found to be sexually assaulted and murdered in 2017, 227 women were reported to be raped and killed in the same year in 223 cases. 

 

Crimes by anti-national elements, ‘jihadi’ terrorists

 

The NCRB has introduced a chapter titled - 'Crimes Committed by Anti- National Elements'. A total of 783 cases have been registered under 'incidents of violence by Anti National elements', accounting for 132 deaths.

The chapter includes  - Crime Cases reported by North-East Insurgents (State/UT-wise), Crime Cases reported by Naxalites /LWEs (State/UT-wise), Crime Cases reported by Terrorists (Including Jihadi Terrorists) and Incidents of Violence by Anti National Elements and Arms Taken Away from Police/CAPFs by Anti National Elements. They do not, however, define who a Naxalite or an extremist is, in this context.

 

Demarcations under caste crimes

 

The NCRB report has demarcated incidents where only SC/ST Act was invoked against the accused and when sections of the IPC were added too. The report also documented ‘Forced to leave place of Residence/Social Boycott’ as a crime against Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, as well as occupation or disposing of land that belongs to SCs/STs, prevention, denial or obstruction of usage of public place/passage.

Under crimes against SC communities, 47 incidents of land grabbing, 63 incidents of social boycott, and 12 cases of obstruction or prevention of use of public spaces were reported in 2017. Against ST communities, there were 27 land grabbing /occupation incidents and 18 incidents of social boycott /ostracisation.

 

Period of pendency of cases with police and with courts

 

In addition to the crimes that have been added to the report, the pendency percentage of the crimes and the disposal rate has also been mentioned. The period of pendency of such crimes has also been mentioned in the report. As per the data, in the year 2017, there were 99,68,435 cases registered across India under the Indian Penal Code that were pending trial.

2019-10-28
 

Title: Cybercrime threats

Author: New Europe

Date: 10.27.2019

Abstract:

LIMASSOL, Cyprus – Chinese hackers are launching more sophisticated attacks that are as frequent and technologically savvy as Russian cyber-units, but it’s difficult to identify who is behind these attacks and international cooperation is needed to tackle cybercrime, Andrey Yarnykh, the head of strategic projects at Kaspersky Lab, told New Europe in an exclusive interview in Limassol, Cyprus on the side-lines of a conference on the role of media in countering terrorism on 22 October.

“It’s difficult to discuss the issue of information threats because the tools hackers use for attacks are being commercialised and these kinds of tools can be sold within an internal market of hackers,” he said, before adding, “You’re aware of the term ‘the Dark Net’? When we detect a certain tool that has been used for a particular hacker attack, it is very difficult to identify who used that tool because it can be used by a certain group of hackers or it could be purchased from that group of hackers and used by somebody else.”

“When we analyse the tools of hackers, all the programme codes, we can differentiate between the languages because there are Chinese-speaking hackers, English-speaking hackers, Russian-speaking hackers, and Spanish-speaking hackers. However, it is still difficult because hackers, on purpose, leave Russian words or Chinese words in their handles to send investigators down the wrong track and to confuse the people that deal with information security,” explained Yarnykh, who added that every investigation is exceedingly complicated because a cyber-attack cannot, with absolute certainty, be attributed to a specific group of hackers.

Yarnykh said Kaspersky is trying to identify hacker attacks through a process called ‘reverse engineering’ wherein cyber-security experts analyse the handle used by hackers to try to identify where it was created, what the target group of the handle is, and where the control centre of the group is located.

“Within Kaspersky, we regularly analyse these kind of hacker tools,” Yarnykh told New Europe. If Kaspersky Lab receives a government request, their experts act as go-to advisors following a thorough analysis of the hacker’s handle and any other background information they can gather about their activities.

“Of course, we’re not a government authority so we cannot carry out an official investigation, we act as experts and we are given certain handle and then we analyse it, which code it is, where it was created, etcetera. Our target is more of a scientific nature so we can develop software in the future that will provide the right type of security,” said Yarnykh.

Kaspersky Lab receives requests for their expert analysis from international organisations and foreign special services involved in cybercrime investigation, including Interpol’s Singapore-based cybercrime unit.

Asked if there is state-sponsored hacking from China and other countries, Yarnykh said, “It is hard to be 100% sure, but I think we can talk about consolidated cybercrime and this sort of cybercrime has no boundaries because the people who give the order to commit that type of crime can be sitting in one country, but the people executing the crime will be sitting in another, and the equipment used for the hacker attack can be located in a third country. It can be in African, in a European Union country, or anywhere else.”

In most cybercrime cases, the criminal offence is usually a one-off. That request comes from a certain party that is carrying out the attack according to the specific request and who are using their expertise to pursue another order or another request. Some time later they fight within each other depending who orders a certain hacker attack and there is a certain interaction between them, but they are independent,” Yarnykh explained.

Asked about a report by the United Kingdom’s National Cyber Security Centre and the US’ National Security Agency, as cited by the Financial Times, that a Russian cyber espionage unit – The Turla group – carried out attacks under the guise of being Iranian, Yarnykh said hack attacks are often carried out under a false flag.

“It’s difficult to say whether these are Russian hackers or Chinese hackers. We’re talking more about Chinese-speaking hackers or Russian-speaking hackers because it could be hackers from Russia or Ukraine…Belarus; from other CIS countries. It could also be Russian speakers who live abroad. They are buying tools from each other, and which are open for hackers. It’s an open marketplace for hackers,” said Yarnykh.

Yarnykh said intergovernmental agreements are an important aspect of international cooperation due to the fact that “Cybercrime is borderless and fighting cybercrime should have this trans-border nature to prosecute them.”

The Convention on Cybercrime, also known as the Budapest Convention on Cybercrime or the Budapest Convention, adopted by the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe in 2001 is the legal framework that Yarnykh says in key to combatting cybercrimes.

“It’s no longer just a European convention. More countries are joining in order to fight cross-border crimes. That said, however, neither China nor Russia have signed up to participate in this convention because the Budapest treaty allows for investigations to take place across all borders. This means an investigator from one country can carry out their investigation in another country and, of course, the law enforcement agencies of most countries are pushing back against this mechanism because they think they have jurisdiction over all investigations that take place within their territorial boundaries,” said Yarnykh.

China, Russia, and other players, according to Yarnykh, “Are trying to improve the existing mechanism in place, while also taking into consideration all the challenges and problems that it faces when trying to create a truly trans-boundary mechanism that is fully capable of fighting cybercrimes. This should be created and run on international level, probably under the auspices of the United Nations.”

Yarnykh stressed that any convention that would not include the participation of all large players like the United States, Russia, China, and the European Union will not be effective. “f any one element is withdrawn or is any large global player refuses to participate, it will not be an effective mechanism for following up and, most importantly, for prosecuting those responsible for committing the crime.”

 

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