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Africa Could Become The Cybercrime Capital Of The World

With more than 80 percent of its computers infected with viruses, Africa could pose the biggest hacking threat of our time.

Naresh Kumar
Naresh Kumar on April 1, 2010.

According to a report presented on Cybersecurity at Cote D’Ivoire in 2008, cyber crime in Africa is growing faster than on any other continent. While estimates say that about 80 percent of PCs in the African continent are already infected with viruses and other malicious software, the more worrying news for cybersecurity experts is that broadband services are opening in the continent, which means more users would be able to access the web, translating into more viruses and spam from online fraudsters in Africa.

Foreign Policy elaborates on how this may harm the global online community:

From a central hub, computers across the continent could be taken over, often without the knowledge of their owners, and set up to forward transmissions (including spam or viruses) to other computers online. These new zombie computers, or “bots” (as in robots), serve the wishes of some master spam or virus originator. “One botnet of one million hosts could conservatively generate enough traffic to take most Fortune 500 companies collectively offline,” Jeffrey Carr writes in his book Inside Cyber Warfare. “A botnet of 10 million hosts could paralyze the network infrastructure of a major western nation.” The African continent, home to almost 100 million computers, would be a top target for botnet herders, with devastating results.

Its not difficult to understand why computers in Africa are so vulnerable to hacking. According to a World Bank survey, almost 80 percent of the population lacks even basic knowledge of computers. Internet cafes, though widespread, are unable to afford antivirus software, making them easy targets for hackers and botnet operators.

While a few nations such as Tunisia and Nigeria have made some headway by way of legislation and cybersecurity initiatives, most African countries have no legal regulations in place to stop or prosecute online crime, thus providing a safe haven for cybercriminals.

Foreign Policy: “Africa’s Cyber WMD”

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