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  • Marijan Hassan - Tech Journalist

Concerns as report points to an ‘uncontrollable’ ransomware surge in developing countries

Advancement in key technologies has been key in facilitating penetration of the internet around the world but, unfortunately, implementation of the right cybersecurity standard in the ‘Global south’ has lagged resulting in a crisis in these regions.

This is according to Joseph Jarnecki and Jamie MacColl, researchers at the UK’s leading defence and security think tank, Royal United Services Institute (RUSI). The pair are calling upon the UK government and other international bodies to intervene and control the crisis.

The researchers pointed out that the Global south countries have been witnessing a rapid increase in internet penetration but cybersecurity skills and practices have failed to keep up. Case in point, a lot of nations in South America are still struggling with the WannaCry ransomware even though the threat has been around since 2017 and most systems in Europe have already been patched against the ransomware.

Jarnecki and MacColl pointed out that the increase in ransomware incidents in middle-income and developing countries such as Costa Rica, South Africa, Malaysia, Peru, Brazil, and India threatened the economic and political stability of these countries and further added that the high-income countries had a responsibility to offer technical assistance to aid in the fight.

In April, this year, Costa Rica had to declare a state of national emergency after the Conti organisation took over the networks of 27 government institutions and threatened to overthrow the government if their ransomware was not paid. Costa Rica was again a victim of a major cyber attack in May when they were targeted by the Hive organisation.

The two researchers specifically mentioned the UK’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) as one body that could step up and do something.

The UK together with the US, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand are the founding members of the Five-Eye alliance, an intelligence-sharing alliance that uses their pooled resources to come up with the best methods to protect themselves against cyber threats.

Jarnecki and MacColl called upon the NCSC to offer the same level of international support it affords its allies.

“The NCSC has a strong global reputation and engages frequently with advanced countries and select UK partners,” the paid said. “By expanding its activities with smaller and underserved countries it can make strides in improving international cyber security while advancing the UK as a supporter of a safe and secure cyberspace.”


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