The text below is the body of a letter that was written by ZICT Chairman, Jacob Kudzayi Mutisi and sent to the Speaker of Parliament, the Clerk of Parliament and the Chairman of the Parliamentary Committee on ICT. The letter also went to the Office of the President and Cabinet and the AG’s office.
From the computer on your desks, the cars that we drive, and the phones that we carry, the planes we fly, the banks that hold your money, the hospitals that keep us alive and the very infrastructure that makes our Zimbabwe cities run. The basis of our modern lives should be the reason why our Zimbabwean Government should immediately implement Computer Crime and Cyber Security Bill.
It’s been 12 years since the Government of Zimbabwe pledged to come up with solutions to curb cyber crime. Surely 12 years is a very long time considering that technology has literally taken over our day to day life. Our analysis at present suggests that government institutions have been less affected by security breaches than the Zimbabwe private sector. Maybe that is why the government has not fast tracked this important bill.
As Zimbabwe Information Communication Technologies (ZICT) we are reliably informed that the Computer Crime and Cyber Security Bill is currently being moved from one office to the other at the attorney generals office For God’s sake this bill should be fast tracked and be brought before the Parliament of Zimbabwe so that our Minister of Information Communication Technology and Cyber Security can start working on the mandate and start putting the structures in place.
As ZICT we hope and pray that all the structures will be put in place as soon as possible to protect the people of Zimbabwe as we head towards the elections. As a nation we live in an increasingly networked world, from personal banking to government infrastructure to mobile banking and moving towards a cashless society. Protecting those networks is no longer optional, but a necessity. Cyber security has to be on top of our national agenda as high-profile breaches raise fears that hacker attacks and other security failures will without a doubt endanger the Zimbabwe’s economy in the short-term.
Computer Crime and Cyber Security can no longer be an afterthought when the Zimbabwe Government is encouraging the use of Information and Communication Technology across all government structures. All government institutions and executives should focus on cybersecurity as a core feature of day today operation. In short, our government institutions must build security systems to detect breaches and deal with hacks before they happen.
Disruption on a national scale have actually already happened, in 2007, Estonia a former Russian colony found itself the target of a week-long cyberattack by Russian hackers angered by the removal of “Monument to the Liberators of Tallinn” a famous Soviet statue from the capital, Tallinn. What began as a sharp rhetoric and mild protests quickly became a serious economic offensive when Russian Internet forums urged sympathetic Russian hackers to act and protect Russia’s interest in the country.
Soon, the computer networks of Estonian banks, government agencies, and media outlets began failing, due to constant and aggressive cyber attacks. ATMs were knocked offline, internet servers were down. It became so serious that the country had to “pull the plug, severing access to all Estonian websites from abroad.
“This is defined as the world’s first cyber war, or Cyber War I. The fact that we all live in a world which is networked together, from internet banking to government infrastructure, and thus, network protection is no longer an optional extra. Cyber Security is now an international concern, as high-profile breaches have given many concerns that hacks and other security attacks could endanger the global economy.
In May 2017, ZICT held a Cyber Crime and Cyber security workshop at a Harare hotel. It was attended by senior Government officials, political leaders, CEOs and representatives from computer security companies, major retailers, law enforcement and technical experts and the focus was to collaborate and explore partnerships that will help develop the best ways to bolster Zimbabwe’s cyber security. (document attached)
Now that we have the Minister of Information Communication Technology and Cyber Security as the first step to fight these possible attacks and pray that they will be given the mandate soon to put the structures in place. Before I conclude can I remind you that we also have the Electronic Transactions And Electronic Commerce Bill, 2013 which also needs to be implemented. We hope the Government continues to engage stakeholders to avoid the mistrust that currently exists.