Wednesday, 8 March 2017

Crack Down Hard On Criminals Turning Ghana Into A Cybercrime Superpower

Apparently,  an online imposter has set up a fake Facebook page in the name of Ghana's finance minister, Hon Ken Ofori-Atta. It  even comes complete with his personal photographs.

Unfortunately, the finance minister is not the only high-profile victim of such online criminals - and he probably won't be the last important personage to suffer that indignity, either.

Sadly, many ordinary people have actually had their lives ruined by falling victim to the egregious scams perpetrated by such cyber-criminals - with some even committing suicide because of the shame it brought them.

Unfortunately, Ghana has become a superpower in cybercrime. It is important therefore that entities in both the public-sector  and private-sector take countermeasures against it.

The question is: How many of our leaders even recognise  the fact that e-commerce is an untapped tech sector with a global footprint, which  has the potential to make a huge difference to the lives of millions of young people in Ghana - in terms of the many opportunities the digital economy offers for creating wealth and  jobs?

If e-commerce offers a strategic opportunity for young people in Ghana, then it is definitely not enough for government  ministers and parliamentarians - whose IDs are stolen by online fraudsters for example - to merely alert the general public  when they are impersonated online.

For national security reasons, they must go further and press the security agencies to make fighting cybercrime a top priority in the fight against white-collar crime in Ghana. All cyber-criminals must be smoked out from their hideouts and dealt with in ruthless fashion.

The question is: Has the time not now come for the minister for national security - the hardworking and very principled - Hon Albert Kan Dapaah, to  get the  Bureau for National Investgations (BNI), the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) of the Ghana Police Service, the National Communications Authority (NCA) and telcos in Ghana to collaborate with Facebook, Google, Twitter and other popular social media platforms to track down and apprehend the crooks in Ghana behind online crime?

Today, cybercrime is definitely a national security issue, for every progressive society on face of the planet Earth - and those in government in our country whose digital IDs are hacked by online fraudsters need to always regard it as such: and get the security agencies to take  immediate action to apprehend those behind it. Every time.

It is an intolerable situation for the many honest everday people running small businesses whose financial well-being depends on leveraging opportunities in the global digital economy.

The Ghana Police Service needs to have a new cybercrime unit that is equipped with cutting-edge technology, which regularly works with Google, Facebook, Twitter, other social media platforms  and  the telcos in Ghana  to identify, arrest and prosecute those engaged in online crime.

Today, cyber-criminals might be hacking government ministers and MPs with impunity. Ditto banks. But what if tomorrow they start  hacking critical national infrastructure assets such as the national electricity grid? What then?

Would hacking the national electricity grid  not literally bring the entire national economy  to a grinding halt? As a people with foresight we must not wait for that to happen. No.

Finally, since the setting up of a phising Facebook page in his name is more or less a national security matter, the minister for finance, Hon KenOfori Atta ought to report the matter to the minister for national security, Hon Albert Kan Dapaah.

The time has definitely come for the Ghanaian authorities to institute a crackdown on cybercrime - for it poses a real threat to our nation's security: and to its future  economic well-being. Enough is enough. Haaba.
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