Christine Bardenhorst

Forensic criminologist Laurie James recently accepted a directorship at the African Cyber Risk Institute (ACRI), a non-profit company focussed on the education of Botswana’s population with reference to dangers posed by cyber criminals. Additionally, she has joined forces with Dziki Ngununu and Chris Johnson in the recently formed African Cyber Security (Pty) Ltd. A company set up to render assistance in detecting, defending against and deterring cyber crime. I sat down to ask her why the diversion into cyber crime and this is what she had to say.

“With Cyber-crime on the rise worldwide, Botswana has not escaped unscathed. Cyber-crime effects every one of us in one way or another. There is no escaping it! Interestingly, in almost every crime we investigate these days, there appears to be a cyber component. From the stalking, cyber bullying and the criminal defamation – that we see with increasing frequency on social media – to the more sinister sex trafficking, sale of human organs, and production and sale of snuff films on the dark web, the problem is not going to go away in the foreseeable future. The use of computers to commit fraud and theft is rampant and on the increase as hackers and employees alike gear up to “make an illicit buck”.

We spend so much time and money protecting ourselves and our companies from hackers targeting us with an arsenal of viruses, staving off attacks like “WannaCry”, but when it comes to identifying internal threats Botswana companies are lax and as a result are sustaining losses of millions of Pula orchestrated by their own employees, who don’t need to hack into systems. These criminals have been handed the keys to plunder the vault by inadequate screening and profiling of internal resources by HR and Risk departments. These are the issues we hope to address though education and empowerment of the community though cyber education.

To this end we will be hosting the 3rd Annual Cyber Crime conference in Gaborone at Travel Lodge on the 18 October 2017. The goal of the conference is to increase awareness of Cyber-crime in Botswana and equip Batswana with some of the skills necessary to combat Cyber Crime and to successfully investigate and prosecute it. Or to at least link you up with people who can assist you. The conference will take a two-pronged approach to dealing with cyber attacks. Delegates can choose to attend presentations from speakers including top cyber professionals like Dr. Christiaan Roos, who will address the new threat in Raspberry Tech; Kaspersky, one of the world’s leading antivirus companies; SCAD, who will focus on the IT Technical elements, or they can attend the talks that focus on the prosecution and conviction of cyber criminals. Speakers include Professor, Adv James Grant, who will walk you through the legal hurdles faced as well as the law reforms necessary to successfully combat cyber-crime. I will take delegates through the profiling of internal threats and the different hacker profiles. Mr. Francois Moller previously of the SAPS High Tech Unit, will show you how cell phones and other data can be accessed and used by investigators, while Mr. Hannes Van Rooyen from VR Forensics will demonstrate ‘Layered Voice Analysis Technology’ – used to focus investigations through veracity assessment”.

As a society, the people of Botswana are very trusting, it is integral that people become acquainted with the threats posed by cyber criminals. Its only once we truly understand the nature of these crimes that we can adequately defend our families and our companies from Cyber Criminals. AWARENESS IS THE KEY!


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