As citizens increasingly carry out their lives online—from maintaining social networks to making purchases to running businesses—unfortunately, many are also falling victim to cybercrime. And, it comes at a great cost. In fact, one recent report estimated that the total cost of cybercrime globally reaches more than $114 billion (USD) annually.
It is a reminder that, while there are countless benefits to investing in information and communications technology (ICT) and expanding its access to citizens, governments also face a variety of privacy and security issues from this growth. I recently came across an article from AllAfrica.com, which I believe illustrates the challenge that many countries are now facing. As the article points out, Rwanda, with one of the Africa’s largest ICT budgets and ambitious efforts to expand technology access and boost digital literacy for citizens, has faced growing rates of cybercrime alongside these initiatives. In the region, Rwanda along with several other neighboring countries, collectively lose roughly $245 million per year to cyber fraud.
Educating citizens on how to protect themselves online from hackers and common cyber threats is certainly one part of the solution. Another piece, which is equally important, is having strong networks and public-private partnerships in place—including with law enforcement—to fight cybercriminals, who are increasingly organized and well-funded. This is where our Digital Crimes Unit lives and breathes, partnering with governments and international organizations worldwide to not only investigate the latest forms of cybercrime, but to stop it in its tracks. To learn more about some of our Digital Crime Unit’s recent activities related to cybercrime, I highly encourage you to check out its website.
Cybercrime is a global threat, and demands a global response. By continuing to educate citizens about how to protect themselves online, and by establishing partnerships that support cybercrime research, training for law enforcement and promote cooperation among stakeholders, together we can make the web a safer place and ensure that national investments in ICT realize their full potential.
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