Government says the increased use of the Internet for business and commercial activities has necessitated the need for strengthening of local cyber systems.
Cybercrime has become a common feature in modern-day business, placing both companies and individuals at risk.
According to the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) ICT Index report of 2019 estimates that there are approximately 3,5 billion internet users worldwide, making the Internet a key public infrastructure for connecting people and businesses.
Those numbers have obviously increased this year due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Speaking at a virtual Cyber Security Awareness Discussion on Friday, ICT, Courier and Postal Services Minister Jenfan Muswere said authorities were not resting on their laurels with regards to the growing cyber threats.
“Business systems have increasingly been inter-connected and new vulnerabilities are being discovered and exploited at an alarming pace.
“A single vulnerability, engagement with a phishing e-mail or a single unpatched device, for example, is all that is needed for a cyber-attack to occur. When it comes to cyber-security, businesses and individuals must take a holistic approach.
“There is no doubt that malicious cyber activity is increasing in frequency, scale, in sophistication and also in its impact. This activity harms our national security and economic interests,” said Minister Muswere.
“We have seen reports of online predators engaging in identity theft and stealing money from consumer’s accounts, misleading advertisements for people to deposit money in criminal’s accounts and some have been defrauded using mobile financial services.
“As Government we would like to urge service providers and consumers to be aware of this threat and be cautious at all times as online fraud is on the increase.”
The minister said entities such as the Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (POTRAZ), the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ), service providers and law enforcement agencies should collaborate in combating this scourge.
“My inistry has already demonstrated its commitment to addressing these issues through the cyber security and Data Protection Bill which is now at its second reading in parliament and we are aware that this needs to be enacted post-haste,” he said.
“In addition, the Ministry, working with its stakeholders has designed a programme to train personnel in Government ministries, departments and agencies on ICT skills and cyber security awareness.”
POTRAZ director-general Dr Gift Machengete said the issue of cyber security goes beyond just the issues of cyber-crime.
“Cyber security is not synonymous with cybercrime nor limited to issues of crime.
“It is the whole package which also involves strengthening security systems to ensure that ICT use does not present any threats to consumers,” he said.
“It is about building trust and confidence so that Digital Migrants can fully embrace ICTs and fully participate in the Digital Economy just as much as Digital Natives.
“ Such participation breeds economic growth and development as increased ICT use has a correlation with GDP growth.”