Ghana lost US$105 million in 2018 through cybercrime such as mobile money fraud, various forms of intrusion and sextortion, Dr Gustav Yankson, Director of the Cybercrime Unit of the Criminal Investigation Department, Ghana Police Service has announced.
He added that the nation lost US$69 million in 2017 and US$35 million in 2016 respectively.
He attributed the prevalence rate of cybercrime to the actions of individuals who exposed their personal information to the public.
“The cybercrime cases we received last year, fraud was number one constituting 60 per cent and followed by various forms of intrusion while sextortion placed third.
“The indicators are that many people are so vulnerable to social engineering, meaning everything we’re told, we believed it without cross-checking the source, and the mode of fraud is to deceive you using false pretences.
“For instance, sextortion indicators showed that between 98 and 99 per cent of the victims were women….and so females are the most vulnerable because women like taking pictures of their naked bodies and send them to their boyfriends and loved ones,” Dr Yankson explained.
He said there was little the Police could do to protect people’s data from getting into the hands of Internet hackers and fraudsters because the telecommunication networks had custody of people’s data and it cannot be easily retrieved from them, unless it is secured with court authorisation, especially when a particular case was under investigation.
Dr Yankson told the media at the launch of a cyber insurance survey conducted by the Institute of Compliance and Cyber Studies (ICCS) in Accra.
Dr Yankson called for a multi-faceted approach such as capacity-building, policy interventions and increased public awareness on cybersecurity and cyber insurance since most corporate entities had not comprehensively understood cyber issues well.
He suggested that corporate organizations in the country should employ the services of cyber security information experts to conduct a comprehensive assessment in order to identify their risk levels, which would inform them about the mitigation measures needed to be instituted to curb potential cyber intrusion or hacking.
The Cybercrime Director of the CID urged the National Insurance Commission to intensify public awareness and sensitization among insurance firms for them to undertake cyber insurance cover.
Dr Yankson said the Police Service last year trained about 1,000 cybercrime investigators to support investigations and combat cyber related crimes in the country.
Last year, Ghana was ranked 87th out of the 165 nations in the global cybersecurity index, which was conducted by the International Telecommunications Union and among the top 10 countries in Africa with very high prevalence rate of cybercrime.
Dr Yankson said the passage of the National Cyber Security Policy, Data Protection Law and ratification of the Budapest Convention as well as the establishment of the National Cyber Security Centre would go a long way to fight the phenomenon in Ghana.
Mr Kwadwo Gyamfi Osafo Maafo, a Senior Officer at the Cybercrime Unit, National Communications Authority (NCA), said the Authority had undertaken sensitisation and training drive on cybersecurity to increase education on cybercrime.
He said the Authority had taken notice of the concerns expressed by the public regarding persons who undertake SIM card swap and mobile money transfers and would be addressed in due course.
“Most fraudsters pressurize people to give out personal information and so they try to get you on the road when you’re not thinking so please, pause and think before giving out information,” Mr Osafo Maafo advised.