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Law needs to catch up with cyber crime

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Police officials, magistrates and judges are not properly trained to arrest, prosecute and try cyber criminals, says ENS Africa's Dave Loxton.
Police officials, magistrates and judges are not properly trained to arrest, prosecute and try cyber criminals, says ENS Africa's Dave Loxton.

SA is currently seen as a haven for cyber criminals due to gaps in legislation, which is not keeping pace technology developments.

So said Dave Loxton, attorney at ENS Africa, speaking at the ITWeb Security Summit 2016 in Midrand yesterday. He said the country's laws need to play catch up with tech-savvy criminals.

According to Loxton, the South African legal system, which is based on Roman-Dutch law, is inadequate with regards to dealing with cyber threats.

There is lack of trained law enforcement officials to deal with cyber crime, he said. Police officials, magistrates and judges are not properly trained to arrest, prosecute and try cyber criminals, he added.

Loxton pointed out cyber crime has now become an epidemic, with a reported global increase in cyber stalking, cyber bullying and identity theft.

"We see what's happening in the world and the devastating impact cyber crime can have on businesses and the state. We need to prioritise legislating it properly."

The McAfee Net Losses 2014 report says cyber crime costs South Africa more than R5.8 billion a year and globally it estimates cyber crime costs will reach $2 trillion by 2019, he said.

"If we look at the statistics regarding cyber security breaches, it is not critical if they are wrong or right, but that the numbers show they are millions of people that are exposed, affected and impacted by cyber crime."

Loxton warned the government to stop burying its head in the sand and prioritise cyber crime legislation.

Government lacks urgency in implementing proposed bills, he noted. He gave an example of the Protection of Personal Information Act, which was signed into law by the president in November 2013, but which is still not effective.

"We are hearing noises, we are seeing the right moves but often what happens in SA is that we have great legislation, but the follow through is not there.

"We are way behind the criminals and we are playing catch up and they (cyber criminals) are getting further ahead of us."

Laxton believes it is possible to curb the surge and risk of cyber crime in South Africa but only if the private sector and the state work together.

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