Wednesday, July 17, 2024
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Second cyber-attack looms


… as govt bolsters barricades

Mohloai Mpesi

The government is bracing for another potential cyber-attack, Tumane Mahloane, an Information Technology (IT) Engineer and cyber security expert at the Lesotho Communications Authority (LCA) recently revealed.

Speaking at the launch of Cyber Security Awareness Month under the theme ‘It’s everyone’s responsibility’, Mahloane provided crucial insights to assembled journalists on thwarting cyber-attacks.

He underscored the high likelihood of a subsequent assault on the government’s systems.

The Integrated Financial Management System (IFMIS), the government’s financial backbone, fell victim to a Ransomware attack in July this year, forcing a halt on all payment systems.

This was confirmed by the Ministry of Information, Communications, Science, Technology and Innovation through a circular.

August brought another blow when the High Court of Lesotho suffered a malicious Malware Attack. The circular from the High Court, signed by the Registrar, Advocate ‘Mathato Sekoai, lamented the irreparable harm inflicted on numerous judgments.

“The network has suffered a cyber-attack and the services provided through it have been severely affected,” Sekoai said.

Mahloane this week cautioned that cyber attackers often strike again if they succeed once. “Yes, we can expect another attack because Cyber criminals do not want to struggle. Also, where they succeeded, they will return to see whether it is easy to enter,” he said.

However, Molupe Molupe, chairperson of the LCA Cyber Security Task Team, reassured that extensive work had been undertaken to fortify against future cyber-attacks.

“There are assessments that were made after the attacks to see where the weakness was. We had to put security measures in place in order to ensure that the same attacks do not happen,” Molupe explained.

He further highlighted ongoing training and workshops within government ministries to educate officials on cyber security measures.

Molupe admitted that no one is entirely immune, given the ever-evolving tactics of hackers, but he expressed confidence in the government’s enhanced response capabilities.

A staggering $6 trillion worldwide was lost to cybercrimes in 2022, as reported by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU). This contrasted with approximately $313 billion in damages caused by natural disasters during the same period.

Cybercrimes thus dwarfed the impact of natural disasters on the global economy, registering nearly 19 times the damage.

According to the Global Cyber Security Index 2020, Lesotho ranked 38th regionally with a score of 9.08, trailing Guinea-Bissau and Liberia.

Globally, Lesotho was ranked 164th. The country lagged in cooperative measures, capacity development, organizational measures, and technical measures, but scored well in legal measures due to the existence of the Data Protection Act 2011.

Molupe announced that the LCA was going to embark on a month-long cyber-security awareness campaign to educate the public.

He explained that the initiative aims to safeguard Lesotho’s digital landscape, ensuring data privacy, preventing cybercrimes, and building a skilled cybersecurity workforce.

Molupe stressed the collective responsibility in cyber security.

“People have to be taught about cyber security and we are going to work with the media through broadcasts and adverts to disseminate messages about cyber security,” he said.

“We are also going to visit primary schools, secondary up to tertiary school to educate children about cyber security because recently people spend most of their time online and that’s where criminal activities take place,” he added.

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