This has not been helped by the fact that this appointment was made following the tabling of the Cybercrime and Cybersecurity Bill (2017) which addresses the associated issues whilst allocating the responsibilities to the already existing Ministry of ICT. Several announcements by senior government officials relating to the use and perceived abuse of social media have also raised fears about what the new ministry will mean for civil liberties; especially those related to freedom of speech but most crucially, also adversely masking the real threat posed by cybercrime. It is indeed unfortunate that the general message coming from the government and the minister himself has an over-emphasis on stopping social media political activism at the expense of real cybercrime. Issues surrounding cybercrime and cybersecurity should not be trivialised by the government’s perceived motive or the reaction of the media and social commentators.
Cybercrime includes a broad range of illegal activities committed by means of a computer system or network. Unfortunately, most cybercrime exploits the poor knowledge and lax security habits of the general public. Cybercrime is no longer confined to fake e-mails “from the son of a dead African King”, but has become much more sophisticated and threatens to derail the economic benefits being achieved through technological advancements. It is the duty of the government to dispel the public perception, and convince the populace that this ministry was not created to instil fear on social media users, but rather to deal with the ever-growing threat from cybercrime. For the country to be adequately protected there needs to be more public sensitisation, education and training to increase awareness of the threats.
The general public is familiar with the usual physical burglary and theft, but the nature of cybercrime is such that the majority of people and businesses will not necessarily realise when digital burglary has taken place. Even though cyber-crime comes in different forms; it can be categorised into attacks against individuals, companies/organisations or other countries.
Personal crimes mainly involve identity-theft related scams in which personal details are stolen. A number of illegal/criminal activities can be perpetrated by an individual using the stolen identity. Besides financial fraud (for example using your ID to obtain a loan in your name), identity thieves commit crimes, such as drug-trafficking, smuggling and terrorism, among many other criminal activities whilst posing as other people.