This OPED- By Fayaz Kamaly who is part of the ITRCA Team, discusses the newly passed cyber crime law of Afghanistan.
The tremendous growth of technology has quickly transformed the world into global village, at the same time it has expanded the spectrum for threats, frauds, vulnerabilities and crimes in the cyberspace. The ease of access, easy to use hacking tools, anonymity, and digital safe havens have created ideal space for cyber criminals to invade the privacy of individuals, organizations and even states. According to CNBC, In 2016 cybercrime costed the global economy over $450 billion, It is projected by Forbes that it would reach $2 trillion by 2019. What’s important to point out here is that as per World Economic Forum, a significant portion of cybercrimes are deliberately not reported by organizations to conceal integrity and reputation, those crimes if included would arguably move the needle on the cybercrime number significantly higher. Keeping in view the international nature of cybercrime it is very important for a developing country like Afghanistan to cautiously progress in digital age. Afghanistan’s Cyber Crime Law approval this week by H.E President Ashraf Ghani is a good initiative in building the foundation for resolving cybercrime cases in the country which will bring opportunities but challenges at the same time.
Afghanistan’s criminal courts and relevant authorities are still mainly based on manual procedures in their day to day activities, therefore based on international best practices digitalization and emerging use of technology have a big impact on refining procedures related to the collection of evidence and its use in courts However, handling digital evidence comes with a unique challenges and requires special procedures. One of the most complex aspects is to keep the integrity of the digital evidence. Digital data is very fragile and can be easily modified or deleted. Today, courts of law and relevant government authorities need to take into consideration that digital information could possibly be stored outside Afghanistan and can be only accessed remotely, therefore It will be interesting to see how cyber forensic investigators win trust and integrate with traditional Afghan courts.
Cybercrime is a global challenge which is growing at a significant pace, Keeping up with new form of crimes and it’s penalties would be a another obstacle for responsible government entities, the delay between the recognition of potential abuses of new technologies and necessary changes to the cybercrime procedures would require continuous international cooperation due to the rapid development of new cybercrimes and their complex structure, consequently it is necessary to monitor the development of international standard and strategies , without their support the fight against growing cybercrime would run into serious difficulties due to inconsistent or incompatible legislations. Now a big question that raises here is whether Afghanistan’s government entities are ready to adopt to this continuous change and does it have technical capacity to manage and resolve complex cyber crimes ?
People, processes and technology are key pillars to ensure confidentiality , integrity and availability of digital information but presently the efforts to improve ICT infrastructure by national unity government(NUG) to bring reforms by advancing technology and optimizing processes are not visible. Secondly, Nepotism, political instability, lack of professionals and deteriorating security situation have worsened the ongoing brain drain though some efforts has been made recently by the government to attract skilled Afghan diaspora living in different parts of the world but the adopted strategy has been very slow. Finally, hacking of National Security Council’s website on 26th November 2016 is a clear indication of Afghanistan facing cyber threat and it will be interesting to find out in near future the impact, enforcement and effectiveness of new enacted law in minimizing elusive cybercrime in Afghanistan.
Despite the current poor ICT security challenges in Afghanistan, the future does not appear to be futile. Afghanistan is stepping into the digital age with impending e-tazkira (Electronic Identity card), electronic passport and e-government project initiatives however, the risks and consequences of cyber attacks resulting in sensitive information leakage would be very high if reforms are not made on time although Afghanistan Cybercrime law in this vital time is going to have a very strong message for criminal minds operating inside and outside Afghanistan.
About the Author: Fayaz Kamali is Chevening Scholar Currently Pursuing MSc Cyber Security at University of Bradford- United Kingdom. He is a technologist with over 7 years of experience with emphasis on Cyber security, Voice over IP, Routing & Switching, troubleshooting and project management. Hands on experience in design, management and implementation of large enterprise networks, VOIP and information security infrastructure. His professional experiences comes from the private sector, Ministry of communication and IT and International firms, He is a CCIE lab certified in voice over IP and among few top level certification holders in the country from vendors such as Microsoft, Ec-council and Cisco Systems.