Botswana has been identified as a potential cybercrime hotspot which provides “organised cybercrime” with the ability and the hosting capacity to attack western countries.
This emerged in a research project launched by the International Cyber Security Protection Alliance to identify how cyber attacks are likely to evolve over the next eight years.
The organisation is a coalition of law agencies, security companies and businesses, including Visa Europe and the defence firm, EADS.
“It’s not just about putting a black mark against a particular nation because many of these countries are the unwilling hosts to cybercriminal networks,” John Lyons, the organisation’s chief executive, told the BBC.
“We know the countries that provide ‘organised cybercrime’ with the ability and the hosting capability to attack the West in terms of its business and customers.
“So, what the ICSPA is looking to do is to work with those nations to provide support to help them improve the cyber-resilience of their national infrastructure, to aid their own economies, and to help their law enforcement groups tackle cybercriminals who work out of their country.”
Mr Lyons said Nigeria, Botswana, Uganda and Rwanda were among nations likely to be targeted by the campaign.
The countries were starting to benefit from improved internet access, but would struggle to “suppress the criminality that will come with that connectivity,” he said.
Other countries on his group’s watch list included Bulgaria, Romania, India, the Philippines and parts of Latin America.
Project 2020 will be led by the European law enforcement agency Europol and combine expertise from global law enforcement agencies, (ISC)2, ENISA and cyber security companies McAfee, Atos, Cassidian, Digiware, Core Security and Trend Micro.
Its aim will be to analyse current trends in cyber crime and how they may evolve over the next eight years and beyond. It will also spot emerging trends for cyber attacks.
Project 2020 will deliver information and recommendations that raise awareness amongst governments, businesses and citizens to help them prepare their defences against future threats. It will also deliver policy briefs and whitepapers on evolving threat scenarios, and establish a monitoring mechanism to assist organisations that combat cyber crime.
Lyons said: “During the past 24 months, critical infrastructure in countries around the world has been under daily cyber attack from both organised criminal networks and state-sponsored entities.
“Cyber crime is notoriously difficult to tackle, given the international structure and capabilities of some of the criminal networks we see in operation. It used to be inherently difficult to combine international efforts to fight cyber crime; this project will for the first time, bring together experts globally, with a remit to identify and fix weaknesses in our systems before they come to market.”
The ICSPA plans to issue a report covering its initial findings before the end of October.