Cybersecurity experts from the 10 member states of the Economic Community of Central African states (ECCAS) have met in Cameroon to determine ways of reducing cyber criminality and terrorism. The member states say the threat of terrorism is high and have agreed to improve collaboration and organizational commitment in fighting electronic crime.
Cameroon has said it is investigating a network of cyber criminals who have penetrated computer systems and networks to hack into personal and corporate bank accounts. N'tangh Bay Emile of Cameroon's judicial police told VOA some of the suspects have diverted millions of dollars from corporate and private bank accounts.
He said automatic teller machines are increasingly becoming the targets of cyber criminals. He added that he is investigating three Nigerians and a Ghanaian who were arrested with new Visa cards that they used to tap information from ATM machines and gain access to their victim's passwords.
Marcel Ambiana Belingue, representative of the Commonwealth Telecommunication Organization at the forum, said cyber criminality in Central Africa is no longer just an economic threat.
"The security of nations and states is a wide growing problem. Hacking is one of them, cyber espionage, even just data loss. You have government civil servants who lose USB sticks with key information as a result of inefficiency within governments or the efficiency of the attackers. You personally may be logged on to a Wi-Fi network and you have no idea that the person next to you is actually logging everything you are doing. Every website that you are logging on to, they make a copy, a ghost copy of your user name and password in real time and you have no idea it is occurring. There is at least 800 million people in the world who have been a victim at least once of identity theft," said Ambiana.
Jean Jacques Massina, director of the Central African zone of the International Telecommunication Union IUT, said Central African states are increasingly victims of cybercrimes because they lack the necessary manpower, equipment and detection systems.
He said there has been exponential growth in cybercriminality and related costs. He said the impact of cyberterrorism has been felt in Central Africa because networks are not well secured and there is a lack of security applications and trained staff.
The 10 member States of the Economic Community of Central African States agreed to be aggressive in pursuing perpetrators and prosecute them to the full extent of the law. They also agreed to develop so-called best security practices to cover all the aspects involved in information security and to train qualified staff to fight cybercrime.