African countries have increasingly become the targets of sophisticated nation-state-level disinformation campaigns, a disinformation and cybersecurity forum held at the Vineyard Hotel in Cape Town, South Africa has revealed.
Conference’s purpose was to start a dialogue between the public and private sectors on this crucial topic, creating awareness around disinformation while investigating its root causes.
Hosted by the Spanish embassy in South Africa, C5 Capital, the Atlantic Council and Liquid Intelligent Technologies, the forum stated, “The effects can be to undermine public trust, the foundations of democracy and the rule of law.”
Partners in the event include Constella Technologies and Haven Cyber-Technologies.
Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and Founder at C5 Capital, Andre Pienaar noted hackers bait unaware individuals, enterprises, governments and even nations, using false or misleading information resulting in reputational damage and financial loss for organizations and entities.
“Disinformation is increasingly a tactic used by hackers to deceive individual targets, enterprises, governments and nations. Our conference today brought together experts with journalists, civil society, businesses and governments to raise awareness of this serious threat in South Africa and Africa. The best antidote for disinformation is an open conversation in South Africa, journalists with integrity and a society capable of critical thinking,” said Mr Pienaar.
The event convened government, business, and civil society leaders who addressed how disinformation posed a serious threat in South Africa and the African continent.
“There is a need for closer cooperation between governments, academia and the private sector. We need to prepare for the conflicts of the future, and disinformation will be the main weapon of these conflicts. Democracy, prosperity and even human rights might be the object of hybrid threats. We need to understand how these threats work if we want to safeguard our societies.”
It was revealed that disinformation campaigns have been used to influence the outcome of elections, spread false medical data about COVID-19 vaccine drives, and lay the groundwork for cyber-attacks on the continent.
CEO of Liquid Intelligent Technologies, South Africa, Deon Geyser said African countries are increasingly becoming the targets of sophisticated nation-state level disinformation campaigns and cyber-attacks, “The effects of which can undermine the trust needed to bring much-needed international investment to the continent.”
Mr Geyser insisted companies operating online space should partner with stakeholders to combat the effects of cybercrime and disinformation.