Cybercrime is a crime against computers and information system with the aim of gaining unauthorized access and control of the device or deny the legitimate user or owner access to the system.  The growth of Cybercrime is phenomenal with estimated 600billlion USD lost only in 2018.  The complex nature of this crime is that it takes place in the borderless realm of cyberspace and is compounded by the increasing involvement of organized crime groups.

In the last few years more and more devices are now connected and controlled using internet.  For instance, CCTV Cameras, Cars, global positioning systems, televisions and fridges.  This called Internet of Things (IoT) technology.  However, Cyber Security experts points to poorly-protected IoT devices as a particular problem. Consequently, these insecure IoT devices provide new, easy approaches to steal personal information or gain access to valuable data or networks.  Besides, Cyber Criminals power online robot (botnets) that can create massive denial-of-service attacks on systems making them accessible to legitimate users.

The following factors continue to boost the growth in the cost of cybercrime:

Cybercriminals are embracing new attack technologies, many new Internet users come from countries with weak cybersecurity, Online crime is becoming easier through cybercrime-as-a-service and other business schemes. Cybercriminals are becoming more financially sophisticated, making it easier to monetize their exploits and with the use of Tor anonymous browser and Bitcoin as the favorite tools to deepen their exploits.

According to a November 2016 report of the African Union Commission (AUC) and the cybersecurity firm Symantec, out of the 54 countries in Africa, 30 lacked specific legal provisions to fight cybercrime and deal with electronic evidence. Limited public awareness and in some cases lack regulatory mechanisms have aggravated the problem.

Malware attacks too have become a threat to data held by governments, corporate businesses and individuals leading to theft, deletion and encryption of information.

Owing to the fact that communication devices are increasingly becoming accessible and affordable, cybercrime is set to be a common problem for the public and law enforcement alike. Already, nearly all crimes reported have an element of cybercrime. Crimes such as fraud, drug trafficking, people smuggling, proliferation of small arms and environmental crimes all have this component in most cases as they will involve phone calls, email exchanges, text messages, use of such media platforms as face book, twitter, whatsapp, storage of information; and mobile money transfers among others.

As much as most crimes have become sophisticated thanks to technology, it also in a way provides an opportunity for law enforcement to investigate these cases with more ease as there is always an information trail. However, law enforcement require the requisite training and the right tools in order to effectively prevent, detect and investigate these cases. Mobile and Forensic Labs and Cyber defence systems are important in this regard.

EAPCCO has been working with UNODC to develop a Cybercrime Investigators’ Manual.