By Roy Zur, CEO, ThriveDX SaaS
India and other nations can play a key role in solving the cybersecurity skills and talent shortage.
Cybersecurity has been growing in relevance across the world in the last couple of years. With new and evolved threats emerging in cyberspace each day, staying safe online is an issue of concern. Hackers are able exploit the smallest loopholes in network security and can steal data or funds within seconds. In a single second a hacker can cause millions of dollars to vanish without leaving a trace. Using malware or social engineering, hackers can gain access to valuable information, such as credit card numbers, customer personal identification numbers, login credentials and government-issued identifiers. According to a world bank document-
“…from 2019–2023, approximately US$ 5.2 trillion in global value will be at risk from cyberattacks. 10.5 million records are lost or stolen every month; 438,000 every hour, and a single large-scale attack can trigger US$ 53 billion in economic losses. Amongst developing countries, Africa has been among the fastest-growing regions in terms of cybercrime activities, with the World Economic Forum declaring cybercrime as one of the greatest threats of 2019 in Africa. Losses from Nigeria and Kenya in 2019 are estimated at US$ 650 million and US$ 210 million respectively, and US$3.5 billion in losses overall in Africa.”
Cybercrime in developing countries
In several developing countries cybercrime is a growing problem as a majority of the users who are using the internet are accessing it through unsecure means that are not designed to protect communication. And because most of these countries do not have any cyber response team or cyber protocols to deal with, hackers are able to get away easily. The lack of cybersecurity awareness and skills amongst the general population is a major cause of the growing frequency in attacks.
Cybercrime is booming in the African continent. The surge in broadband access has resulted in an increase in internet users. Thus, Africa has become a ‘safe haven’ for online fraudsters. African countries are pre-occupied with pressing issues such as poverty, the Aids crisis, the fuel crisis, political instability, and ethnic instability. As a result, the fight against cybercrime is lagging behind. The lack of IT knowledge by the public and the absence of suitable legal frameworks to deal with cybercrime at national and regional levels have compounded the problem.
In 2021, there were several reports of targeted malware attacks raging across Nigeria, Kenya and South Africa. South Africa was the country most heavily affected by targeted ransomware in the first quarter of 2021. Subsequently, Egypt was the next hardest–hit country with a similar profile of targeted ransomware detection.
Latin America has very high internet penetration but seems largely unprepared to counteract cybercrime. This means that, as governments impose stricter quarantine measures to fight back the coronavirus pandemic, individuals, corporations and critical infrastructure are vulnerable to attack. They have the money, a huge population and are adopting new technology quickly, but at the same time these countries are very much behind the rest of the world in implementing cyber defence mechanisms, regulation and compliance policies across the board.
According to an Eset Latin American Security Report of 2020, Brazil is one of the most heavily attacked countries in cyberspace. The survey of Brazilian companies revealed that one-third had experienced a cybercrime, with combined losses totalling millions. Many Latin American countries have not yet publicised the dangers of the Internet. Private industries also frequently believe that they are not targets, so they have not made preventative programs a high priority.
The swift growth in Internet use in Asia, together with a tenfold or more increase in access in China, Indonesia and India since 2002 has also been accompanied by substantial increases in cybercrime. Due to lack of proper regulations and no prominence on cybersecurity training in many Asian countries, criminals thrive and are able to continue making millions through their fraudulent ways.
According to a report by the UN in 2020, an increasing number of criminals in Southeast Asia are using the dark web to engage in the full range of illicit activities available. This includes the buying and selling of drugs, cybercrime toolkits, fake passports, fake currency, online child sexual exploitation material, stolen credit card details and personally identifiable information from breaches. Countries like Bangladesh, India, China have become hotbeds for cybercriminals due to their large population and lack of cybersecurity protocols.
Cybersecurity education for a safer tomorrow
The trend of cybercrime in developing nations is growing fast and there is no question that criminals are exploiting these regions specifically because of a lack of digital safety and hygiene amongst the public and the disregard for cybersecurity education in society at large. In a study conducted by IBM in 2019 it was found that 95 per cent of cybercrimes or breaches are caused by human error. It implies that cybersecurity is not about installing firewalls and other software or hardware upgrades, it is about the correct practices being followed by the users operating on the networks.
Where India is and what it can do?
In India there are limited colleges that offer specialized cybersecurity programs out of which many courses have become obsolete with their old curriculums that haven’t evolved with the new trends and technologies emerging in cyberspace. There are very few programs that bring practical aspects of cybersecurity to the forefront and lay emphasis on skilling students with real world abilities instead of just textbook knowledge.
Skills such as malware analysis, cyber forensics, and network architecture have become crucial as there is a growing need for specialized cybersecurity professionals and not just amateurs. There is a need for courses that are updated and cater to modern trends as cybercrime is evolving rapidly. And unlike traditional subjects, cybersecurity needs practical training and institutes must focus on application-based teaching methodologies.
With the global cybersecurity crisis affecting everyone, India can play an important role in solving the talent shortage in cybersecurity. As an emerging nation, India needs to develop adequate resources to create cybersecurity professionals and with a large student population, soon India may become a hub for cybersecurity professionals.