Fight against scam messages: Telcos block 400,000 daily – Communication Minister

About 400,000 scam messages are blocked daily by telecommunication companies from reaching targeted phone users in the country, Minister of Communication, Ursula Owusu Ekuful has disclosed.  

The disclosure follows recent report from the Cyber Crime Unit of the Criminal Investigations Department (CID), Ghana Police Service, that US$105.9 million was lost to cyber and mobile money fraudsters in 2018.

According to her, the increased threat was one of many cyber crimes including fake news and impersonation on social media platforms, mobile money fraud amongst others, currently gaining grounds in the country.

In this regard, she said the Ministry was currently working on a draft cyber security legislation which would address some identified weaknesses in Ghana’s cybercrime laws to complement the implementation of the Budapest Convention and other conventions to protect the digital economy.

Opening a two-day Conference on Technical Implementation of the Budapest Convention in Accra yesterday, she stated that new legislation follows an assessment of Ghana’s cybercrime legislation by the Council of Europe which identified some gaps that would impede compliance with the convention.

Further to that, the Minister said her outfit was in the process of reviewing Ghana’s Cyber Security Policy and Strategy to ensure strategic document to guide our cyber security development.

In the meantime, the National Cyber Security Centre which is responsible for the Cyber Security Awareness Programme, would launch Cybercrime and Cyber security points of contact (PoC) in the coming weeks to facilitate reporting of cybercrime and cyber security incidents, she noted.

The initiative, according to Mrs Ekuful, was expected to increase the number of cases reported or handled by the police adding that the Ministry was working with its counterpart at the Interior and the National Security to support the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) of the Police with a digital forensics laboratory to aid police investigations of cybercrime cases.

The growth in the use of digital services and products which has resulted in increased cyber threats, she explained, required that Ghana joins in the fight against cyber crime through international cooperation to address cyber crime issues and strengthen cyber security to ensure the full benefit of the emerging digital economy while minimising the risks.

Following Ghana’s accession to the Budapest convention, the Minister said, the conference was to build a common consensus on priority areas for full attention in order to ensure full implementation of the Convention and facilitate discussions on its technical implementation, implementation gaps, benefits and opportunities for the sectors of the economy that are mostly affected by cybercrime and cyber security issues.

Programme Manager Cybercrime, Council of Europe, Matteo Lucchetti, said the current cyber security issues represented threats to human rights which require cross-border cooperation to develop legislation to curtail it.

The Budapest Convention, he stated that, has created common international standards with a baseline for tracking cybercrime and provides provisions and procedures for dealing with the emerging threats.

Presently, Ghana, which signed on to the Convention in November last year, joins other 62 countries which has committed to come together in the fight against cyber crime with a further eight close to becoming members.

National Cyber Security Advisor, Albert Antwi-Boasiako, said the fight against cyber crime was a collective responsibility rather than a sole government business and called on all stakeholders including investigators, prosecutors, judges, telecommunication service providers and amongst others to ensure effective implementation of the Budapest Convention.

By Claude Nyarko Adams

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