Ghana lost US$105 million (GH₵544 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, announced on Thursday.
He added that the nation lost US$69 million (GH₵357 million)in 2017 and US$35 million (GH₵181 million)in 2016 respectively and thus, attributed the prevalence rate of cybercrime to individuals’ attitudes and actions, which 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 multi-faceted approach such as capacity-building, policy interventions and increased public awareness on cyber security 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 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 creation and sensitization among insurance firms in order 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 cyber security 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 expressed the belief that 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 and subsequent appointment of a National Security Advisor 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), while contributing to a discussion at the function, said the Authority had undertaken some sensitisation and training drive on cyber security and called for public-private partnership 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.
“Whenever you receive a call and you’re in a hurry, you must check the source of the call and don’t just give out your personal data…when you receive whatsapp, SMS or email messages, don’t rush to give responses but you must check the source.
“Most fraudsters pressurise people to give out personal information and so they try to get you on the road when you’re not thinking so please, purse and think before giving out information,” Mr Osafo Maafo advised.