Shs1.5 Billion Lost In Cyber Attacks In 2023

by Christopher Kiiza
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In the escalating battle against cybercrime, the financial toll is becoming alarmingly clear. In 2023 alone, a staggering shs1.5 billion was siphoned away in a series of devastating cyber-attacks, the Uganda Police annual crime report 2023 reads.

“Cybercrimes led to a loss of Ushs1,543,292,161 in 2023, out of which Ush377,441,465 was recovered,” the report reads in part.

This underscores the pervasive threat these digital crimes pose to the Uganda economy.

A total of 245 cases of Cybercrimes were reported to the Police countrywide in 2023 compared to 286 cases reported in 2022, giving a 14.3% decrease in this crime category. 

By the end of the year, 61 cases were taken to Court, 51 cases were not proceeded with while 133 cases are still under inquiry.

Out of the total cases taken to Court, 14 cases secured convictions, one case was acquitted, two cases were dismissed while 44 cases are pending in Court.

Comparison of Cybercrimes From 2020 to 2023

There has been a general increase in cases of cybercrimes from 256 cases reported to the Police in 2020 to 286 cases reported in 2022.

The Uganda Police annual crime report 2022 registered an increase in cybercrime. A total of 286 cases of cybercrimes were reported to the police in 2022, compared to 258 cases reported in 2021, giving a 10.8 percent increase in this crime category.

By the end of 2022, 45 cases were taken to court, nine cases were not proceeded with while 232 cases were still under inquiry.

Out of the total cases taken to court, five secured convictions and one was dismissed, while 39 cases were pending.

Cybercrimes resulted in a Shs19.2 billion loss in 2022, with only Shs16.7 million recovered from the total sum.

This significant loss highlights the urgent need for enhanced cybersecurity measures and robust strategies to combat the growing sophistication of cybercriminals.

A cyber-attack is a malicious act perpetrated in the digital realm, targeting computer systems, networks, or data for various purposes. These attacks range from theft of sensitive information, disruption of services, to causing financial or reputational harm.

Attackers use a myriad of techniques like malware, phishing, or denial of service to breach defences and exploit vulnerabilities. 

A cyber-attack event is the top-most business risk for Ugandan business executives.

Many financial institutions and telecom companies have fallen prey to cyber criminals that steal money, and/or sensitive information, and demand ransom. 

 Factors that contribute to the increase in cyber-attacks in Uganda, include; increase in remote work and online transactions, making organizations and individuals more vulnerable to cyber-attacks; the growing popularity of mobile banking and other online financial services, which created new targets for cybercriminals, the lack of cybersecurity awareness and training among many Ugandans; and lack of a comprehensive cybersecurity strategy for Uganda.

Different forms of cyber-attacks prevalent in Uganda encompass phishing attacks, where cybercriminals dispatch deceitful emails or SMS messages aiming to deceive individuals into disclosing personal information or clicking on harmful links; malware attacks, where cybercriminals infect computers and other gadgets with harmful software capable of stealing data, encrypting files, or causing disruptions; and ransomware attacks, where cybercriminals encrypt files and demand a ransom in return for the decryption key.

Solutions

To mitigate the occurrence of cyber-attacks, institutions must prioritize investment in robust cyber security measures, establishing fortified systems aimed at minimizing vulnerabilities and thwarting potential threats.

The Africa Cybersecurity Report – Uganda 2019/2020 by Serianu, a Pan African cybersecurity firm recommends that organizations in Uganda should take steps to protect themselves from cyber attacks, such as implementing strong security policies and procedures, educate employees about cybersecurity best practices, invest in cybersecurity solutions such as firewalls, intrusion detection systems, and antivirus software, and regular backing up of data and testing backup systems.

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