- as Presec Boys wins maiden nat’l cybersecurity challenge
Deputy Communications and Digitalisation Minister, Ama Pomaa Boateng, has reiterated government’s commitment to protecting children and the country’s entire cyberspace from criminal activities.
“Given that any activity that has the potential to undermine the freedom of any child online is an affront to their inalienable rights, the protection of children, who are among the vulnerable in society, is therefore at the forefront of the government’s national cybersecurity efforts,” Ms. Pomaa Boateng stated.
Speaking at the maiden edition of the National Cybersecurity Challenge for Senior High Schools in Accra on Monday, October 18, 2022, Ms. Pomaa Boateng, said technology has transformed the way of life, as a result, the internet is being used in almost every sphere of one’s socio-economic life; to share information, to conduct research, for social engagements and for private and public sector businesses, making it a critical tool for communication and education.
“However, as its usage advance, there are several crimes being committed in that space and we all have individual and collective responsibilities to help address some of the challenges to promote a safe and positive use of digital technologies, especially among children and young people,” he said.
In February this year, the Cyber Security Authority (CSA) undertook a survey in selected senior high schools in the Greater Accra region, interviewing 3,622 students. The survey revealed that, out of the students, 1,544 spend more than five hours online daily. Also, 2,331 of these students have encountered sexual content while online; 2,025 students have met online strangers physically; 1,418 students have experienced romance scam involving money; 866 students have experienced romance scam involving sex; 830 students have posted sexual contents and 769 have encountered bullying, all online.
Describing the findings as “alarming”, Afua Brown-Eyeson, Lead for Child Online Protection (COP) Unit of the CSA, said the figures are clear indication that the internet space poses serious threats to children.
She said as law enforcers, parents, guardians and teachers, it behooves on them to collaborate to protect and secure children from all forms of abuse including those online. She expressed the Authority’s commitment to protecting the interests of children online in line with its mandate to regulate and promote the development of cybersecurity in the country.
“In collaboration with relevant stakeholders, the CSA has developed a National Child Online Protection Framework aimed at tackling the incidents of Child Online Sexual Exploitation and Abuse including child sexual abuse material, online harassment, and cyberbullying against children, as well as preventing inappropriate collection and possession of children’s data by service providers.
This Framework when approved by Cabinet will be enforced together with the provisions of the Cybersecurity Act 2020 (Act 1038) section 62-66 and other international conventions to punish all who abuse the rights of children online and provide guidelines on how children can stay safe whilst online. The Cyber Security Authority is putting in place the required structures to create a safe digital ecosystem for the children of Ghana but the greater responsibility lies on parents, teachers and the children themselves,” she stated.
The Cybersecurity challenge
Organised by the Cyber Security Authority, the challenge was part of the Authority’s National Cybersecurity Awareness month and had six senior high schools across the country participating in the maiden edition.
They were Adisadel College, Mfantsiman Girls Senior High School, Northern School of Business, Oda Senior High School, Presbyterian Boys Senior High School and St. Monica’s Girls Senior High School.
Touching on the challenge, Ms. Brown-Eyeson said the six schools were selected for this maiden challenge because they have committed themselves to set up Cybersecurity Clubs, adding that the objective of the Challenge was to create awareness on cybersecurity best practices for students, encourage them to stay safe online, sensitize them of career opportunities in cybersecurity and ultimately develop a cybersecurity culture among young children.
“It is also an opportunity to directly engage children on issues that affect them in the cyberspace,” she added.
After four rounds of contest, Presbyterian Boys Senior High School, emerged winner of the maiden edition of the challenge, garnering 64 points. Mfantsiman Girls and Adisadel College were first and second runner ups, collecting 59 and 57.5 points respectively.
CSA will organise cybersecurity training for the winners in January.