Malawi Computer Response Team (mwCERT) of the Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority (MACRA) announces of recent cyber-attacks that have targeted several countries in the COMESA region, resulting in severe disruptions to critical information infrastructure, across various sectors.
In a statement, MACRA Director General, Daud Suleman says “these online attacks have the potential to affect anyone due to the interconnections between countries and our proximity to the concerned countries”.
“As a proactive intervention, mwCERT urges users of computer systems and cyberspace to maintain vigilance in protecting their own critical information infrastructure.
This is done in the exercise of mwCERT duties to provide proactive cyber-related services, including threat advisory under s.6(3) of the Electronic Transactions & Cybersecurity Act (Chapter 74:02 of the Laws of Malawi.
MwCERT therefore, wishes to advise everyone to take heed and consider deploying the following measures:
1. regularly update software: keep computer systems, antivirus software, and other applications up to date to benefit from the latest security patches and counter known vulnerabilities;
2. create strong and unique passwords: use strong and unique passwords for all online accounts, avoiding easily guessable information;
3. enable two-factor authentication (2FA): utilize the security enhancement provided by two-factor authentication, which adds an extra layer of protection beyond a password;
4. exercise caution online: exercise caution when clicking on links or opening attachments in emails, especially from unknown sources or suspicious emails;
5. employ strong email filtering and be aware of phishing attempts to mitigate the risk of attacks; and
6. regularly back up data: create backups of essential files and store them securely. This practice ensures that data can be recovered in the event of a cyber- attack, system failure or device loss.
“There is a need for coordinated effort on any suspicious event in our critical information infrastructure and for any inquiries, the public is encouraged to contact Malawi CERT at [email protected] or visit www.mwcert.mw or call toll-free number 261 from any Malawian phone network for any assistance and guidance.
Last week, during the 5th Digital Financial Inclusion Public-Private Dialogue organized by COMESA Business Council (CBC) in Lilongwe, Suleman said there is a critical need to develop national data protection laws to align them with international regulatory frameworks, including the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).
The Dialogue was held under the theme: ‘Digital Financial Inclusion for MSMEs in Comesa: Towards operationalization of Regional Digital Retail Payments Scheme’ and Suleman said the laws will safeguard the rights of citizens from exploitation.
He added that there are basic laws and conventions that as Malawi need to have in place such the data protection act to protect people including the MSMEs, saying: “This Act will be very important because it will ensure that citizens’ data, their identities become protected such that none can come into the country to exploit the data that belongs to Malawians for other uses.”
He added that through ongoing efforts, they are enhancing the legislative framework to provide a robust foundation for data protection, enforcement, and accountability.
“By aligning with global best practices, they foster trust in digital transactions, enable cross-border data flows, and ensure responsible data practices among businesses, thus promoting the commissioning of the digital retail payments platform within the COMESA region.”
He further said another piece of legislation that as a country need to put in place is the cyber crime as it is now growing very fast, saying the growth of digital space cannot be stopped such that countries like Malawi is a member of the global village where things have gone digital and therefore need laws that support digital transformation.
As a country, he said, there is need to be part of new standards of doing things where it can be in line with other nations in the digital space.