Student journalists have been drilled on efforts implemented by the National Agency for Information and Communication Technologies-ANTIC to fight cyber criminality in Cameroon.
This was during a professional session organized by the Coordinator of the Specialized School of Journalism-ESJ which was held, at the Hervé BOURGES Amphitheatre of the Advanced School of Mass Communication, on January 16, 2020.
The conference moderated by the Coordinator of ESJ, Dr NTA a BITANG, was attended among others by, Pr. Jean Francois NGUEGAN and Dr. Jeremy ZEMENGUE, respectively Head of the Department of Radio and Information and Communication Technologies.
It was held under the theme “Information and Communication Technologies in information processing and the fight against cybercrime”.
In a seven key exposé, computer design engineer, Jean Dominant GAO, resource person from the National Agency of Information and Communication Technologies-ANTIC said the government created the agency in 2010, to improve on the country’s cyber security, so as to fight cyber criminality which was increasingly affecting Cameroon’s digital space.
As disclosed, from an initial 6% penetration rate in 2013, users of the internet, increased to about 36% as of 2019. This surge triggered by the availability of ICT tools on the Cameroonian market came with its realities.
As a result he said, internet users, more present on social networks began complaining about cyber-crime related issues such as hate speech, fake news and hacking among others.
“The state of Cameroon loses close to 4 billion Francs CFA annually due to scamming and phishing. Users, public service structures as well as health systems are not spared. Cyber espionage is rampant… on Facebook for example, about 137 people have reported cases of fake profiles. Also, 23 attacks have been detected on public websites with about 8729 vulnerabilities detected on public service websites”, GAO said quoting official statistics.
During his 36 minutes presentation, the expert also pondered on all the efforts said forth by government to fight the increasing attacks on the Cameroonian Cyberspace. He said ANTIC offers a series to both private users and the Cameroon government.
“These services entail, the real time monitoring of sensitive institutions, the instigation of security alerts, assistance to security officials, and a toll free number which public users to share their concerns or vital information” he pursued.
Added to this, the expert hammered that the agency is charged with issuing certifications to Social Media profiles of State dignitaries and public persons.
Reacting, Godfrey BALLA of Journalism III questioned the veracity of the certification process. The student was concerned about the proliferation of fake profiles of government officials on the internet and what ANTIC does to curb the effects created by such profiles. Answering, the expert said they work daily with Facebook to impede such acts.
The issue of fake news, was one of the principal concerns raised by student journalists present in the role. For Coralie TOUKAM, level two journalism student asked the expert what the agency does in other to curb the emancipation of such acts on internet, which she added was detrimental to the public and also affected journalists.
“On this issue, ANTIC is again a close partner of Facebook as well as other social media networks. Each time a fake news is detected, we can ask our partners to turn down the post and even users can denounce such fake news if they know it is not true” GAO said.
In this vein, Dr. NTA reiterated that technicians in information and communication technologies are not well placed to help journalists distinguish between what is fake and true. He added that journalists are taught on how to verify information.
“Journalists should know their sources, work with what is credible, visit recognized websites and investigate extensively before sharing an information to his audience” Dr. NTA concluded.
Call ANTIC just in case
Cyber criminality costs a lot of cash to the State. Private internet users have not been spared. They have scammed on Facebook, Twitter, and WhatsApp as well as on certain sites which they thought was trustworthy.
According to the expert, this situation has had drastic consequences on the country’s economy. In other to reduce the effects of cyber criminality, the expert revealed that government asked ANTIC to open a toll free number.
“When we receive a victim’s call, we first calm him down. We investigate the issue, gather enough data and then come out with a conclusion. After this, solutions proposed are mostly successful”, the expert concluded.
At the end of the close to two hours professional meeting which started at 4:15pm, students expressed their satisfaction.
“I now know more about ANTIC. I have been a victim once, I was scammed last year. Unfortunately I never knew who to talk to at that time. Now I know and I will be much more careful” Paul Reinhard Wandji of Journalism III said.
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