Supporting Africa’s Cybersecurity Expertise Makes the World Safer

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Relying in your perspective, Africa is both a world asset or a legal responsibility within the data safety (infosec) world — or a little bit of each.

Many individuals unfairly painting African nations solely as malicious hackers and scammers. Nigeria bears probably the most accusations with frequent mentions of Nigerian prince scams. Whereas menace actors such because the Yahoo boys do function in Nigeria, the so-called 419 scams (named for the numerical part of Nigeria’s prison code) aren’t at all times African in origin. But this stereotype stays very a lot part of the cybersecurity lexicon.

It is simple to make Africa a cybercrime scapegoat by means of sustained myths, misconceptions, and simply plain ignorance of the continent’s wealthy historical past and tradition. Perpetuating damaging stereotypes makes everybody much less safe by not partaking African expertise on the world’s data safety stage.

As an alternative, the worldwide data safety group must assist African nations defend towards the rising misinformation, disinformation, and malinformation campaigns from China and Russia that have already got taken root there.

International menace actors are discovering methods to infiltrate African nations to assist create a malicious hacker military by means of presents or disinformation campaigns. For instance, an infosec skilled in Zimbabwe informed me that the native consulate from a identified state sponsor of cybercrime affords free lunch and pc classes to locals.

It is crucial that the infosec group acknowledges the expertise in Africa that desires to study and helps them turn into defenders, not future menace actors.

Increasing Africa’s Cybersecurity Expertise

In 2018, I used to be invited to a convention in South Africa to current a workshop and a keynote speak about cybersecurity fundamentals to a bunch of librarians and knowledge professionals. The attendees have been wanting to study and share data of cybersecurity finest practices. They know their nations have knowledge safety points, they usually have {many professional} communities working onerous to coach and upskill folks for data safety jobs and a greater future.

Listed below are among the nongovernment organizations (NGOs) and nonprofit organizations which might be doing wonderful work in Africa, each in educating college students and practitioners and spreading safety consciousness of their communities.

  • Africa Cybersecurity Consortium: The ACC is certainly one of many teams in Rwanda coaching data safety professionals by means of internship placement applications and coaching.
  • Africahackon: This safety collective is constructing the following era of African cybersecurity expertise in Kenya and different nations by internet hosting seize the flag competitions, offering hands-on coaching for digital forensics, and extra.
  • Cyber Safety Consultants Affiliation of Nigeria: Led by an govt council of cybersecurity leaders, CSEAN holds a well-attended annual convention, seminars, coaching, and workshops to boost the bar of expert infosec professionals in Nigeria.
  • Cybersafe Basis: Based mostly in Nigeria however serving a number of nations in Africa, CyberSafe has a number of expertise coaching and consciousness applications. Its profitable CyberGirls program affords a free one-year fellowship for ladies ages 18 to twenty-eight who obtain job coaching for cloud safety, governance, danger, and compliance (GRC), and different roles.
  • Safety BSides: This well-known US-based grassroots safety group is rising in Africa with teams in Algiers, Algeria; Cape City, South Africa; Kampala, Uganda; Lagos, Nigeria; Mombasa and Nairobi, Kenya; and the nation of Togo.
  • SheHacks Kenya: SheHacks KE was established in 2016 to present Kenyan girls working in infosec a spot to attach and supply studying alternatives for women and college students.
  • SheSecures: This West Africa-based group supplies group, profession constructing, and cyber literacy.
  • Wentors: Based mostly in Lagos however serving the globe, this group pairs girls in IT and knowledge safety with mentors who’re professionals of their discipline.

Shining Mild Into Darkness

The phrases of the late geographer Dr. George H.T. Kimble nonetheless ring true immediately: “The darkest factor about Africa has at all times been our ignorance of it.” We’re at a pivotal level: The worldwide data safety group can embrace and help our African counterparts, or it could let historical past repeat by watching the continent be consumed by digital colonialism and used as props by nation-state actors. Doing the latter will influence us all.