Information at the Ministry of Communications is that the United States of America (USA) has engaged a Ghanaian, who is believed to be a cyber fraud whiz kid. In the Ghanaian phraseology, cyber fraud is ‘sakawa’, and it is a crime for one to be involved in it.
Consequently, why would the USA engage a sakawa whiz kid, to the extent of providing the whiz with the latest information technology (IT) equipment to get the sakawa gem more apt in the fastest modern means of communication?
Well, if only one of the thousands of the sakawa gurus could have his bread buttered by the US, then, it is welcome news that the Ministry of Communication says it has plans of roping in sakawa gurus to a competition to tap their IT brilliance for national development.
Last week, at a stakeholders’ forum held by the Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA), the Deputy Minister for Communication, Vincent Sowah Odotei, announced that the government would engage a section of the youth, who are engaged in unethical hacking, for more productive cyber security ventures.
The MFWA forum was held under the theme: ‘Ghana’s cyber security environment: challenges and the way forward’, and in the Deputy Minister’s view, the capabilities of the sakawa youth, in using the internet for dubious benefits at the expense of their victims, could be tapped by the state, as Ghana seeks to go more hi-tech.
The objective for the move, Mr. Sowah Odotei explained, is to equip and empower the youth, and to clamp down on other cyber criminals, and, to a larger extent, create employment and alleviate poverty, just as the USA has shown Ghana the way to harness our potentials.
The current state of cyber crime in Ghana includes mobile device security threats, e-payment (mobile money) threats, data breaches, social media threats and fake news, according to information at the E-Crime Bureau, headed by Albert Antwi-Bosiako, who is now the E-Crime Security Advisor to the Ministry of National Security.
The reason The Chronicle is all for the government’s laudable move to engage the sakawa gurus, is that Ghana’s cyber readiness is below 50 percent. The country was positioned 19th globally, and 8th with an index of 29.4 percent in Africa, in 2016.
What makes these unethical hackers rich is phishing, which is the attempt to obtain sensitive information such as usernames, passwords, and credit card details (and, indirectly, money), often for malicious reasons, by disguising as a trustworthy entity in an electronic communication.
The hackers, therefore, phish email messages, websites, and phone calls designed to steal money, and the cybercriminals do this by installing malicious software on other users’ computers.
In 2016, phishing attacks topped the number of reported cybercriminal cases in Ghana, with 618 cases. By this figure, it meant a lot of money went into wrong hands – sakawa gurus.
That was money for no work done; the money was phished or stolen electronically.
These hackers spend the phished money on ostentatious materials, including flashy cars and clothing.
They throw decency to the dogs, because they did not sweat to earn the colossal money that hit their dubious accounts. Again, these sakawa gurus hardly live in decent homes.
Therefore, if the government is going to engage these unethical hackers, who have abundant IT knowledge, in the form of job creation, not only is the country going to win the war on the high lunacy rate among the youth, but most of our youth would be seen behaving decently.
But, how soon the government is going to start the engagement, is what The Chronicle is not privy to.
While the government is thinking through on when to start the sakawa competition, The Chronicle would like to entreat it to consider sending the National Cyber Security Policy and Strategy (NCSPS) to Parliament for consideration, and to be passed into law.
The NCSPS was approved in 2016 by Cabinet, and one of its contents is ‘Child online protection’.