Mr Robert P. Jackson, United States, has lauded Ghana’s vibrant and dynamic Information and Communications Technology community, for driving innovations in information technology software, hardware development and the implementation of mobile services.
He said, these innovations were improving Ghana’s ability to compete in world markets in the diverse areas of textiles, energy, and commodities.
‘Ghana’s internet penetration rate is growing by nearly 40 per cent every year. That upward trajectory is expected to continue for the next several years,’ Mr Jackson stated in his address at the opening of the 2016 National Cyber Security Conference in Accra.
He said the internet and information technology were playing an increasingly significant role in the lives of Ghanaians.
‘There is so much good that can result from embracing this new technology. However, we must not ignore that in this increasingly networked world, there are bad guys out there seeking to take advantage of users like you and me, create havoc, and cause harm for their own commercial, political and social gain,’ he said.
Citing the Global Risks 2015 report, published last January by the World Economic Forum, Mr Jackson said the report gave a rather stark warning: ’90 per cent of companies worldwide recognise they are insufficiently prepared to protect themselves against (cyber attacks).’
He said cyber criminals could even sabotage the government or companies in the form of ‘denial of service attacks,’ which flood web services with bogus messages and sometimes disable systems and infrastructure.
The Ambassador said following reports of high-profile breaches, more governments were focused on raising awareness of cyber-related risks; and they were building resilience against attacks, intrusions, and security failures.
‘The US government is committed to working alongside our Ghanaian counterparts to tackle these issues.
‘We are providing technical expertise and targeted training that supports the efforts that the Government of Ghana is already making to improve its cyber security. However, I will be the first to admit that we do not have all the answers. We are still learning ourselves,’ he said.
‘And there is no ‘one size fits all,’ approach. Ghana’s agenda to strengthen cyber security and combat cybercrimes should be tailored to match Ghana’s own realities and aspirations.
‘It is ultimately up to the Government… with input from the private sector and civil society, to articulate its objectives, define its priorities, and allocate resources to address the nation’s cyber concerns,’ he said.
Mr Jackson commended Ghana for initiating a dialogue with the US on cyber issues; and that Ghana already had a Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT) that stands ready to respond to cyber-attacks.
He said Ghana was drafting documents to join the Budapest Convention on Cybercrime, an international treaty designed to address cybercrime by harmonising national laws and increasing cooperation among nations.
This, according to the Ambassador is a significant step in bringing Ghana’s already strong legal cyber Security framework into greater alignment with the international community.
He applauded the approval of the Ghana’s National Cyber Security Policy and Strategy; which according to him would be a living document that Ghana could continue to build upon and improve as technology and conditions change.
‘Attacking the threat of cyber-criminal activity requires a whole-of-government and multi-stakeholder approach. No single government, and no single organisation, has all of the resources and expertise to combat the advanced and persistent cyber-attacks that are being launched today,’ Mr Jackson said.
He said a vibrant partnership between government and the public and private sectors was essential to an effective cyber Security policy.
‘Throughout this process, as we seek collaborative solutions to improve cyber security, we must also recognise the importance of maintaining and protecting freedom of speech, including Internet freedoms and the right of free speech,’ he said.
He said the US and Ghana were both members of the Freedom Online Coalition, and they value their mutual support for freedom of expression online.
Mr Felix Ofosu Kwakye, a Deputy Minister of Communication, announced that Cabinet had approved Ghana’s accession to the Budapest Convention on cyber-crime.
The Convention pursues as a matter of priority a common criminal policy aimed at protecting countries against cyber-crime by adopting appropriate legislation and fostering international cooperation.
Mr Ofosu Kwakye said to tackle the cyber menace; the Ministry in collaboration with the International Telecommunications Union established the National Computer Emergency response team to coordinate handling and sharing of cyber intelligence with all network operators in the country.