A few years ago, cybercrime was simply a fairytale in Malawi. With the influx of mobile money platforms such as TNM Mpamba, Airtel Money, National Bank’s Mo626 and FDH’s 525, cybercrime is no longer mythical; it is real.
A lot of Malawians have been scammed and have ended up losing their hard-earned money in their mobile money accounts. And a lot more will be duped if mobile money operators will not seal loopholes in their systems.
They say that every piece of code is work in progress. What that means is that it does not matter how careful the programmer is, some hacker will always discover vulnerabilities in the system.
Paradoxically, most of the systems are robust today because of hackers. Once these bad guys expose weaknesses in systems, the owners quickly move in and patch things up.
The problem is that by the time this happens, many would have lost money and data. It is a backward-looking way of solving software and system problems.
I have it on good account that most of the recent cybercrime that we have experienced is stemming from our central prisons. These guys usually target unsuspecting users of TNM Mpamba and Airtel Money. They love to sucker agents of these platforms; their accounts are usually fat.
Some tech-savvy criminals are using our prisons as breeding ground for cybercrime. These inmates seem to have connections with the outside world including some bad employees of mobile money operators. It is a syndicate.
The best way to catch a thief is perhaps to send another thief. In computer speak, system auditors are ‘hackers’ that catch other hackers.
I need to explain that very well before some system auditor understands me literally and decide to take me to task.
System auditor software systems and look for areas that may comprise the system rendering it vulnerable. These fellows do the same work that hackers do; the difference is the motive.
The current crop of local scammers uses very simple methods to steal from people like SIM swaps. These thieves take advantage of lower tech literacy levels of some mobile users.
It is, therefore, very important that mobile operators engage in civic education of its users. But above everything else, deploy system auditors to reveal and seal the loopholes these bad guys are using to con unsuspecting mobile money users. I rest my case, my lords and ladies.