Addressing concern over AI, data protection

17 Dec, 2023 - 00:12 0 Views
Addressing concern over AI, data protection

The Sunday Mail

Artificial intelligence (AI) and data protection are emerging as significant concerns in the realm of cybersecurity, and their impact on cyber awareness in Zimbabwe is expected to continue growing.

Davison Matsvimbo

As AI becomes more advanced and data accumulation proliferates, Zimbabwe must address these concerns and prioritise cybersecurity measures to protect individuals and organisations.

This article explores the potential risks posed by AI and data protection and highlights the importance of cyber awareness in mitigating these risks.

AI technology offers immense benefits in various sectors, including healthcare, finance and transportation. However, it also presents new cybersecurity challenges. One such challenge is the potential for AI systems to be manipulated or compromised by cybercriminals.

Hackers can exploit vulnerabilities in AI algorithms, leading to devastating consequences. For example, they can manipulate AI-based recommendation systems to promote harmful content or engage in targeted attacks using AI-generated spear-phishing e-mails.

This poses a significant threat to individuals and organisations in Zimbabwe, as it becomes increasingly challenging to distinguish between legitimate and malicious AI-driven communications.

Another concern is the potential for biased or discriminatory AI algorithms.

AI systems learn from historical data, including both explicit and implicit biases present in the data.

If not properly addressed, AI algorithms can perpetuate and even amplify these biases, resulting in unfair or discriminatory decision-making processes.

For instance, AI algorithms used in hiring employees could inadvertently perpetuate existing biases, leading to discrimination against certain demographic groups.

Addressing these biases and ensuring fairness in AI algorithms is crucial for maintaining cyber awareness and protecting individual rights in Zimbabwe.

Data protection is closely linked to AI concerns, as AI systems rely on vast amounts of data to function effectively. However, the accumulation and processing of data raise significant privacy concerns.

Individuals in Zimbabwe, like elsewhere, are increasingly wary of how their personal data is collected, stored and used.

They need reassurance that their data will be protected and not misused.

Failure to protect personal data can have severe consequences, including identity theft, financial fraud and reputational damage. It is imperative for Zimbabwe to establish robust data protection regulations and enforcement mechanisms to safeguard individuals’ privacy and foster cyber awareness regarding data privacy issues.

Thank God, the Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (Potraz), the regulator, is working tirelessly to address this issue.

One specific challenge related to data protection in Zimbabwe is the lack of awareness among individuals and organisations regarding data privacy rights and best practices.

Many people are unaware of their rights and the risks associated with sharing personal information online. This lack of awareness makes individuals more susceptible to data breaches and phishing attacks, ultimately compromising their personal and financial security.

Cyber awareness campaigns are crucial in educating the public about the importance of data protection, safe online practices and the rights they have concerning their personal information.

Enhancing cyber awareness in Zimbabwe requires a multi-faceted approach.

Firstly, Government should lead the way by implementing comprehensive data protection legislation.

This legislation must outline clear rules and regulations for collecting, storing and processing personal data, as well as penalties for non-compliance.

Robust enforcement mechanisms and regular audits should also be established to ensure compliance and accountability.

Secondly, public-private partnerships are crucial for effective cybersecurity and data protection.

Collaboration among Government agencies, businesses and civil society organisations can facilitate information sharing, joint initiatives and capacity-building programmes to raise cyber awareness among all stakeholders.

Engaging with the private sector is particularly important as they often collect and manage large amounts of personal data.

Furthermore, investing in cybersecurity education and training is paramount.

Educational institutions should incorporate cybersecurity into their curricula to equip the younger generation with the necessary skills and knowledge to navigate the digital landscape safely.

Continuous training and professional development programmes should also be provided to individuals working in sectors that handle sensitive data, such as finance, healthcare and Government.

In conclusion, the country must prioritise cyber awareness initiatives to educate individuals and organisations about the risks posed by AI technology and the importance of data protection. By addressing these concerns and establishing robust cybersecurity measures, Zimbabwe can protect its citizens, promote a secure digital ecosystem and foster trust in the country’s digital transformation endeavours.

Davison Matsvimbo is a certified data protection officer. Contact: [email protected]


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