Namibia faced 2,7m cyberattacks in 12 months

Peya Mushelenga

Namibia was exposed to 2,7 million cyberattacks where information was hacked in 2022, information minister Peya Mushelenga says.

During a staff meeting held at the parliament building on Friday, Mushelenga disclosed that the country experienced an average of over 7 000 attacks per day.

Cyber attacks are attempts by hackers to damage or destroy a computer network or system.

The Global Initiative Against Transnational Organised Crime has in the past warned that Namibian companies faced a high number of cyber-attacks in recent years.

“Additionally, Namibian banks reported that an increasing number of their clients have fallen for cryptocurrency scams.”

Along with data stolen, the country’s institutions faced reputational damage.

“Hackers steal people’s data and use them for their own benefits. They further damage the reputations of institutions that they attack,” Mushelenga said.

He also provided an update of a data protection bill and strategy.

“We will, therefore, finalise the National Digital Strategy and table the Access to Information regulations and the data protection bill. We hope to conclude consultations on the cybercrime bill and finalise the consolidated National Information and Communication Technologies policy,” he said.

Mushelenga said they have since paid attention to cybersecurity architecture by developing solid systems and protocols to protect digital assets and personal data.

“The establishment of the National Cyber Security Incident Response Team was a critical step in our proactive response to cyber threats.

“It is one of the reasons why the government complied with the international framework that mandates the Subscriber Identity Module (SIM) Registration,” he said.

Meanwhile, Mushelenga announced that over 70,9% of the 2,3 million active SIM cards are registered.

He said there will be no further extension after the current 31 March deadline.

SNAIL PACE

Former technology adviser to the United Nations Paul Rowney said Namibia’s snail pace with this bill has cost the country a 10 year lag behind the rest of the world in terms of addressing these threats.

“We haven’t even addressed threats of 10 years ago. Where we fail as a government, we take too long. How long has the data protection act been in draft,” he said.

He believes any country can only afford to lag behind within six months.

He highlighted the key legal instruments that need to be passed and enacted to protect Namibians online.

“That’s why we need the data protection bill and cybercrime bill that will help protect consumers. The ministry needs to finish its digital strategy and we are quite a way off with that,” Rowney said.

Moreover, Rowney argues that the Communications Regulatory Authority of Namibia should be more independent to enforce compliance especially in the age where banks are moving towards cashless, online payments.

“We are moving full speed into the digital world… You have got key stakeholders like the Bank of Namibia pushing consumers into digital payment channels,” he said
Researcher Frederico Links last year criticised Namibia’s slow progress with the data protection bill.

“Namibia has been attempting to legislate data protection since 2013, but these efforts have repeatedly stalled over the last decade, without it being clear why,” noted findings published in an article commissioned by the Media Policy and Democracy Project.

Last year, a United Nations (UN) agency raised alarm to cyberattacks the country continues to face.

These were the findings of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) revealed during last year’s Information and Communication Technology (ICT) summit held in the capital.

“Namibia has faced a number of high-profile cyber attacks in recent years, including ransomware attacks on government agencies and businesses,” forewarned UNODC’s cybercrime programme officer Mohamed Bah.

Bah said the shortage of skilled cybersecurity professionals, while its capacity is developing is part of the reason why the country is vulnerable.

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