Exploring the lack of cybersecurity in Malawi

Internet-enabled infrastructures have been integrated all over Africa. However, there has not been a sufficient amount of attention dedicated to cybersecurity. Even though there is a significant increase in wireless technology and the internet, cybersecurity is not always ready to tackle the upcoming threats.

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Malawi is one of the countries that battle low internet access statistics. In 2018, only 14% of the population had an internet connection. To add to that, only 52% of citizens had mobile devices. Naturally, those who have these gadgets and visit the web might not be aware of the commonplace risks. Why does Malawi struggle to integrate internet access more? It might have something to do with the price. It seems that a cellular data plan offering 10 gigabytes can cost $21 a month. Unfortunately, this is half of the minimum wage of Malawi.

Digital privacy in Malawi

The country seems to perform a high-level of surveillance. According to the Electronic Transactions and Cybersecurity Act of 2016, citizens need to comply with regulations that somewhat restrict human rights in the digital world. Even the news in the recent decade proves the closely monitored digital space in Malawi. For instance, a bank clerk commented on the then first-lady, pointing out her resemblance to a cartoon character Rango. The aftermath indicates that the man is awaiting trial for his cybercrime. Similar stories of arrests are not that uncommon, with many of them involving citizens and their attempts to criticize political figures. Hence, the human rights of Malawi citizens are highly restricted in the digital space.

Cybersecurity in Malawi

With many benefits the internet provides, some of them being global sharing of information, increased sources for education and learning, and communication between people, there are also a couple of disadvantages, the main one being the lack of cybersecurity.

Cybercrime increases with the focus on the internet for major operations, including mobile networks, mobile banking, or government-related actions.

Before going further, let’s define what cybercrime is. Cybercrime is any crime committed using an internet network, a computer, or a hardware device. Some of the most common cybercrimes include hacking, email scams, viruses, or even more severe issues like identity theft, trafficking, and fraud.

But why can cybercrime be prevalent in Malawi? Because it has little to no cybersecurity – there are no cybersecurity laws, standards, or policies carried out. The internet is there, but there are no security policies that can protect internet users. Because of this legal gap, all internet users can become cybercrime victims, sometimes even without realizing it.

There already is a rise in global cyber-attacks targeted at some of the biggest corporations, so it’s only a matter of time when these attacks come to Malawi as well. Some of the significant problems of Malawi’s vulnerability to cybercrime are:

The Lack of Trained Staff

Firstly, to have secured networks, we need to have a professional staff that will know how to protect internet users from harmful attacks. Besides that, they should be trained to react correctly to every possible attack and eliminate it on time. There is currently an insufficient number of people capable, trained, or educated to deal with various cybercrime forms successfully.

With professionally trained personnel, the whole network can be a safer place to visit, and potentially harmful attempts can be caught before they do any damage. That’s why it’s crucial to raise the number of staff trained specifically for these matters.

The Lack of Digital Education

Secondly, people are not well-informed about cybercrime and cybersecurity. There is no available course, book, or magazine to give them insight into this common issue. That’s why all internet users should take the initial step and try to inform themselves about all events and possibilities relating to cybercrime, as much as they can.

Also, there are no school subjects or courses that focus on any relating issues. A specifically designed education program could help everyone learn about this problem and potentially save them from a harmful internet attack. Such initiatives have been taking place. For instance, Police Scotland has created a course for people from Malawi to learn more about cybersecurity and technology.

Conclusion

To sum up, Malawi needs to add some additional measures relating to the cybersecurity of all internet users. Because of the advancement of the internet and technology in general, it’s essential to keep in mind that the attacks are becoming more advanced, sophisticated, and harder to notice.

Additionally, the restricted rights in the digital space require immediate action. Many citizens might turn to a VPN privacy. It encrypts all online actions and allows people to operate in the digital world with less imposed surveillance. However, this is not a long-term solution, as governments need to address the increasing demands for digital freedom.

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Enoch Singano
Enoch Singano
6 months ago

That is totally true, Malawi need a digital shift in the cybersecurity space. Many companies and organisations digital infrastructure are unsecured and have many vulnerabilities that need to be resolved.

Davie Munthali
Davie Munthali
6 months ago

Are your findings based on research?

Ulemu Banda
Ulemu Banda
6 months ago

This article is very fragmented on the subject. There is no way organizations and govt can create controls to protect internet users from cyber threats. This is not done anywhere in the World. Using the internet is the same as parking a car in a public car park where there is a sign that says “Parking is at owners risk”. The author has not done sufficient research on the Cybersecurity topic in Malawi. The first step would have been to speak to Infosec managers in the private sectors and Govt to understand what controls (detective or preventive) they have in… Read more »

Last edited 6 months ago by Ulemu Banda
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