Cameroon’s government is taking steps to help banking institutions, business companies and other public enterprises better understand the digital data management ecosystem to protect their data from unauthorized access.

According to information from the National Agency for Information and Communication Technologies, ANTIC – a body which fronts Cameroon’s ICT development initiatives and information systems security audits – there are several vulnerabilities in the systems of many institutions in the country which make it easier for online fraudsters to either steal or tamper with their data.

In this regard, Chief Executive Officers and heads of these institutions were in a recent two-day brainstorming session dubbed the Cameroon Internet Governance Forum. The meeting which brought together IT security experts in the economic capital, Douala, was based on reflections regarding the use of the internet in Cameroon and how public entities can keep their digital data safe from interference of all forms.

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Cameroon’s Internet Governance Forum is a multi-stakeholder platform for policy dialogue on issues of internet governance in the country. It’s a gathering of all stakeholders in the internet governance debate including representatives of government services, actors in the civil society sector, and people from the IT and academic worlds.

Need for better protection of confidential data in Cameroon

“Data is extremely important and it plays a central role in decision-making; thus the need to make them secure. Often, corporate and personal data have been inadvertently exposed to cybercriminals. This forum was therefore to exchange ideas on how to protect confidential information,” ANTIC’s Director-General, Prof Ebot Ebot Enaw, said.

Cameroon’s policy on data governance, the use of financial and marketing data in decision-making processes, the collection and use of data in the banking sector, the legal protection of data, national cyberspace security and internet governance in Cameroon, also came under review during the Douala forum that rounded off on 19 June.

About the Internet penetration rate in Cameroon, ANTIC’s Director-General said it now stands at 30% as of January 2020, representing about 7.8 million people in a country of 25 million citizens.

“While we rejoice there that there is a significant increase in the number of Cameroonians who now have access to the internet, we, however, regret the surge in some malpractices such as the propagation of fake news using internet platforms as well as threats to some confidential information and data which may put the security of individuals and the state at risk. We must now, more than ever before, encourage Cameroonian internet users on the responsible use of the resource as well as put public institutions on guard against the activities of a criminal,” Prof Enaw warned.

“To secure our cyberspace, there’s need for the putting in place of a legal framework which is adaptable to our realities and the available technical infrastructure,” he pointed out.

Data protection and Cameroon’s digital transformation

Data protection is a major concern for Cameroon especially as the country is in the nascent stages of its digital transformation drive. There is currently no specific legal text on digital data protection in the central African nation. However, provisions of data protection are contained in several different pieces of legislation. Moreover, the only existing legislation that talks about data protection in Cameroon to the furthest possible extent is the December 2010 law on cybersecurity and cybercrime.

This scenario notwithstanding, ANTIC has continued to organize exchange forums to create awareness and sensitize officials of banking institutions, health establishments, and other public entities on safer methods of keeping and managing their data.

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