Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) Ag. Executive Director Irene Kaggwa-Sewankambo has challenged corporate leaders to take cybersecurity seriously.

Speaking at the 9th annual Directors and Company Secretaries conference held at Protea Hotel in Kampala on Tuesday, 3 March 2020, Ms Kaggwa-Sewankambo said chief executives and directors of companies in Uganda tend to treat cybersecurity as an isolated IT problem rather than a serious business risk.

Ms Kaggwa-Sewankambo emphasised the difference between Cybersecurity and Cybercrime saying “Cybersecurity looks at preventing the unauthorised access to electronic data/information, application, systems and/or the communications networks while Cybercrime is like any other crime only that it is committed online or through the Internet. What is a crime in the physical world under the law does not cease to be a crime if conducted online.”

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“The cost of cyber attacks is likely to rise if players in the sector do not prioritise and invest in combating the growing threat,” she said at the conference organised by ICSA Uganda (Institute of Chartered Secretaries and Administrators), adding that, “it’s important that cybersecurity is demystified at that management level.”

Ms Kaggwa-Sewankambo further urged corporate leaders to prioritise cybersecurity in their businesses by considering it among the critical strategic risks that require urgent attention to ensure business sustainability.

On its part as a regulator, the Commission is trying to “walk the talk,” though the concerned actors must put in place a number of measures to prevent cyber damage, the Ag. ED said.

Robust cybersecurity measures are imperative to protect businesses from Cybercrime, which manifests in various forms through the use of computers or the Internet. Common cases of Cybercrime include phishing, identity theft, fraud, cyberstalking or malicious disruption of operations.

According to the African Cybersecurity Report 2016, banking is the leading risk sector.

Ms Dorothy Ochola, the Standard Chartered Bank Company Secretary, advised banks to install robust firewalls and updated software to protect themselves against cyber attackers.

She cautioned that cyber fraudsters are devising newer and more sophisticated online schemes that could cost bankers billions if they don’t keep ahead of the threat.

Contributing to the panel discussion “Criminals See Opportunities Everywhere”, Ms Kaggwa-Sewankambo pointed out that UCC and NITA Uganda each host Computer Emergency Response Teams (CERT), which organisations can utilise to assess the vulnerability of their ICT infrastructure and obtain advisories on dealing with cyber attacks.

As part of its mandate to promote and safeguard the interests of consumers and operators, UCC is championing cybersecurity in the Communications Sector. Only last month, the Commission launched the first-ever national cybersecurity competition targeting university students.

More than 500 university students aged 18-24 participated in an inaugural workshop on cybersecurity techniques at the Commission head office in Bugolobi on Friday, 21 February 2020.

The workshop, sponsored by UCC and Silensec, an Information Security Management Consulting and Training Company, and conducted by Kenyan cybersecurity specialist Kapere Ndege, sought to map the key areas for the competition – knowledge, innovation, and skills in relation to cyber attacking, defending and responding.

The objective of the cybersecurity competition is to find young cyber talents that can foster the development of the required cybersecurity competencies.

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