Spotlight on digital hygiene to curb crime


  • Police have completed most of the 10 cyber-crime cases reported in the past 3 months
  • The most prevalent dangers in Africa are internet scams says Interpol report


MASERU – Cyber-crime has grown throughout Lesotho, and many Basotho are not following proper digital hygiene to protect themselves from these emerging hackers.  “A lot of cyber-crime originates in Africa, and threats spread quickly because many servers and computers are not properly protected.  “As a continent, Africa is vulnerable to a wide range of online criminal activities, including financial fraud, drug and human trafficking, and terrorism,” wrote Henry Osborn Quarshie in an article titled Fighting Cybercrime in Africa.

The Lesotho Mounted Police Service (LMPS)’s Cybercrime Unit was established in August 2022 by Commissioner Holomo Molibeli with the goal of focusing on crimes such as hacking, unauthorised data access, revenge porn, cyber-bullying, pornography, internet fraud, and phishing, among many others. “In the last three months, the unit has received about 10 cases that specifically deal with money laundering,” said Senior Inspector Thabang Futhoane from the police Cybercrime Unit.  The office, he said, has concluded the majority of the cases, adding that it is only left with the tracing of suspects. “We have learned that most cases are happening because complainants are not fully informed on how cyber criminals operate. We are busy all the time with awareness campaigns in order to sensitise the public on this issue, but it seems we need to do more.

“Every week LMPS is given slots at different radio stations to sensitise and address the public on whatever is of concern to them and what is a threat to their lives,” said Futhoane. He said internet fraud is prevalent since they receive at least two cases of the crime per day, adding that the Penal Code Act of 2010 is their only legal tool for catching these criminals.

According to a 2021 Interpol report, the most prevalent dangers in Africa are internet scams in which consumers get fraudulent emails or text messages purporting to be from a genuine source, and this is exploited to deceive victims into disclosing personal or financial information. Another danger is digital extortion, in which victims are duped into revealing sexually suggestive photographs that are then used to blackmail them. In an interview, Samuel Koatla, head of Technology and Operations at Standard Lesotho Bank, told Public Eye that fraud is the most common cybercrime that the bank encounters.

“Fraud is very common and is one of the most serious crimes we deal with. Fraudulent operations carried out by offenders in an attempt to acquire financial advantage are often a financial industry nightmare.  “We have an excellent track record as Standard Lesotho Bank of recovering cash and closing gaps indicated in very small cases where these have been successful in the past.

“Our maturity in terms of controls to prevent successful fraud attempts has expanded dramatically, and we continue to work hard to ensure that we proactively close identified gaps and are prepared to fight against zero-day assaults.  “The bank’s collaboration with internationally known agencies that proactively and regularly inform us of threats and execute penetration tests on our controls keeps the bank ahead of the culprits.

“We also have a strong partnership with Lesotho’s law enforcement agencies, especially the LMPS. In the past year, we have had cyber risk and security workshops with the National Security Services (NSS), the LMPS, the Lesotho Defence Force (LDF), and the Lesotho Correctional Services (LCS) to improve our understanding and coordination in dealing with cybercrime.”  Koatla added: “Our contribution to the present Computer Crime and Cyber Security Bill has likewise been enormous.  “Our expert digital analysis and accounting are critical for constructing substantial evidence that law enforcement can use in their operations.”

Tawanda Mugari, co-founder and geek in chief at the Digital Society of Africa, believes that people should limit their social media posting.  “Oversharing your life on the internet allows anyone to easily gather information about you that could be used against you to cause harm. Typically, cybercriminals will use a technique known as social engineering, which is a tactic of manipulating, influencing, or deceiving a victim in order to gain control of their computer system or steal personal and financial information,” he said.

Social media platforms such as Facebook are the easiest to perform social engineering on, as people post quite a lot of information on them.  “Digital hygiene hacks I would advise people to use are: to stop oversharing, people must refrain from befriending people that they do not know. I know it is hard for some people as they want to have bragging rights by having a large number of followers or friends on social media. “Usually if something seems too good to be true, it usually is. People must take a second before clicking on any link to verify that it is legitimate or not. You cannot click on a link that says you have won the lotto when you have not bet on the lotto,” Mugari warned.

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