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BDF move to upgrade cyber force arm sparks fears

BDF Commander: Segokgo

The Botswana Defence Force (BDF) is in the process of procuring data extraction and analytical tools to upgrade their cyber cyber force to boost cyberwarfare, cybersecurity, and counter-cyberwarfare and has moved swiftly to delink their move from their parent ministry’s recent controversial bid to spy on citizens through the Criminal Procedure and Evidence (Controlled Investigations) Bill of 2022 which initially sought among others to empower law enforcement agencies to use undercover operations to intercept communications.

The BDF, among others has a responsibilities to combat cyberterrorism and to establish cyber power projection to “protects both the BDF and citizens of this Republic.” Responding to this publication’s request, the BDF spokesperson, Colonel Tebo Dikole said: “It is pertinent to note that the rise in use of information technology has triggered the risk of cyber-attacks, and organisations such as the BDF remain a target, therefore there is a need for the BDF to keep up and maintain a secure cyberspace through provision of resilient and robust capabilities. Cyber security is critical in the military as it protects both the BDF and citizens of this Republic. It is against this background that in 2021 a market research on the possible upgrade of BDF’s analytical tools was done through Request for Quotation (RFQ).”

Dikole however says they currently don’t have any active tender for procurement of forensic extraction tools, further adding that the market research of this equipment is not in any way in line with the recently proposed Criminal, Procedure and Evidence Bill, which only came before parliament at the end of January 2022, but solely for military operational purposes.

“Further, you must be aware that the BDF in terms of the law is not a criminal investigating agency and thus would not be the entity of government to bring cases before court. As stated above, the survey was for its military operational needs,” he clarified.
An unconfirmed intercepted RFQ BDF document has listed several Forensic Extraction Tools they need, among those being Magnetic Axiom and recovery digital evidence tool which –acquire images from locked and unlocked IOS devices, Bypass passwords on thousand of Android models with exploits and advanced extraction capabilities, recover evidence from Windows-based computers and Macs, retrieve data from 50plus of the most popular cloud services including icloud, google, facebook, whattsapp, twitter, instagram and skype etc.

The tool also offers advanced parsing and carving techniques to recover the deepest artefact data from 1000+ artifact, industry-leading discovery of chat, picture, browser history and location data, discover more macOS artifacts. The tool also has connections feature to automatically show relationships between artifacts, files and people and timeline to present evidence on a visual timeline that immediately tells a story. Another tool needed is the Data Pilot which retrieves all contact records, call history, messages calendar, files being images, video and more and all deleted data.

Security analytics……

Research shows that Security analytics is a proactive approach to cybersecurity that uses data collection, aggregation and analysis capabilities to perform vital security functions that detect, analyze and mitigate cyber threats. Security analytics, online literature says are tools such as threat detection and security monitoring which are deployed with the aim of identifying and investigating security incidents or potential threats such as external malware, targeted attacks and malicious insiders.

“With the ability to detect these threats at early stages, security professionals have the opportunity to stop them before they infiltrate network infrastructure, compromise valuable data and assets, or otherwise cause harm to the organization,” reads a security based online site which further states that security analytics solutions aggregate data from numerous sources that include endpoint and user behaviour data, business applications, operating system event logs, firewalls, routers, virus scanners, external threat intelligence and contextual data, among other things.

“Combining and correlating this data gives organizations one primary data set to work with, allowing security professionals to apply appropriate algorithms and create rapid searches to identify early indicators of an attack. In addition, machine learning technologies can also be used to conduct threat and data analysis in near real time,” reads the document. Dikole however says the nation should not be concerned because the BDF remains steadfast in its mission of securing Botswana’s territorial integrity, sovereignty and national interests.

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Media have a Role in Accelerating Harm Reduction Adoption

8th December 2022

African Scientists and Experts Call for the adoption of a Harm Reduction in approach in Public Health Strategies and Tobacco Control. Media have a critical role to play in accelerating Harm Reduction efforts by informing and sensitizing cigarette smokers on the availability and benefits of alternative, potentially lower risk products to cigarretes. Traditional cessation and smoking prevention norms are not the only ways that smokers who cannot or don’t’ want to quit can make healthier choices that cause less harm to themselves and those around them.

This was said during the 2nd Harm Reduction Exchange conference for African journalists held in Nairobi, Kenya on the 1st of December 2022. Speaking at the Harm Reduction Exchange Conference, Integra Africa Principal Dr. Tendai Mhizha emphasized the role that journalists and media houses should play in handling misinformation and disinformation in tobacco harm reduction discourse that is actually perpetuating the death and disease caused by people continuing to smoke combustible cigarettes. “There has been a lot of disinformation surrounding the topic of nicotine and the alleged negative effects that e-cigarettes have on public health.

This has led to policies that disfavour risk reduces products and narratives that completely deny their benefits. The media have the difficult responsibility to curb the scourge of disinformation and misinformation on harm reduction just like on other socio-political stances that are prescriptive and do not uphold consumers’ right to healthier lifestyle choices,” Dr Mhizha said.

The Harm Reduction Exchange cast a spotlight on alternative ways to reduce harm among tobacco smokers. Held under the theme Harm Reduction: Making a difference in Africa, the conference focused on the progress being made through harm reduction strategies in all fields related to public health such as drug and alcohol abuse, excessive sugar consumption, skin lightening and other addictive and behavioral practices. A wide array of harm reduction strategies and initiatives that are deployed towards reducing unnecessary deaths through non-communicable diseases were presented and discussed.

On his part, Prof. Abdoul Kassé, a world renowned and awarded Oncologist and a Professor of Surgery at the Cancer Institute in Senegal, said that Harm Reduction is a powerful public A Summary of the HR Exchange 30th November  1st December 2022 health tool that has the potential to reduce cancer by 30% and should be at the centre of all public health development strategies. Harm reduction, he said, has already benefited many people in public health and is the most viable alternative in tobacco control.

It applies to areas where there is a need to reduce the harm associated with a practice or consumption of a substance that is overused in society leading to increased morbidity and mortality. “Innovative Harm Reduction initiatives will help to keep more Africans alive. Tobacco Harm Reduction initiatives, including the use of popular e-cigarettes, nicotine patches and chewing gums, have continued to generate a lot of misunderstanding in both the public health community and in the media. However, there is evidence that the use of potentially less harmful alternatives than cigarettes for those who are not willing or cannot give up smoking with currently approved methods may be a solution, not necessarily the best for everyone but by far better than continuous smoking.

Where cessation repeatedly fails, switching to less harmful products is expected to result in benefits for many smokers,” Prof. Abdoul Kassé said. Similarly, views were expressed by Kenya’s Dr. Vivian Manyeki who said tobacco Harm Reduction has a solid scientific and medical basis, and it has a lot of promise as a public health measure to assist millions of smokers. “Many smokers are unable, or at least unwilling, to achieve cessation through complete nicotine and tobacco abstinence. They continue smoking despite the very real and obvious adverse health consequences and against the multiple public health campaigns. Conventional smoking cessation proposals should be complemented with alternative but more realistic options through Harm Reduction,” Dr. Manyeki said.

Tobacco Harm Reduction was introduced to mitigate the damage caused by cigarette smoking—the most dangerous form of tobacco use, and the leading cause of preventable diseases, including cardiovascular disease, lung cancer, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. “Nicotine has an addictive potential but plays a minor role in smoking-related morbidity and mortality. Across the world, there is growing interest among experts in novel approaches towards tobacco control and there is an ongoing discussion that reducing the negative effects of smoking can be also achieved by tobacco harm reduction,” Dr. Kgosi Letlape, an ophthalmologist and President of Africa Medical Association and the president of the Association of Medical Councils of Africa, said.

Tobacco cessation is a key factor in the prevention of cardiovascular diseases and cancer. Abstinence from tobacco smoking is one of the primary goals for health promotion and management globally but it is unachievable in a huge amount of cases. This task remains unaccomplished despite extensive public campaigns on the health dangers of tobacco smoking. Thus, the development of novel strategies to reduce smoking is imperative. Moreover, the use of innovations in smoking products has been currently adopted by several smokers to reduce the health risks of smoking.

“The Harm Reduction approach prevents drug-related deaths and overdose fatalities and is the only way out for addicts. In the same way these alternative technologies can reduce tobacco harm and accelerate the journey to a smoke-free world as they reduce exposure to toxicants,” Bernice Apondi, A Policy Manager at Voices of Community Action and Leadership Kenya (VOCAL-Kenya), said.

During the Harm Reduction Exchange, journalists drawn from Southern, West and East African countries, including: Nigeria, Botswana, Ethiopia, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Rwanda, Eswatini, Tanzania, Uganda, South Africa, Zambia, and Zimbabwe debated and set forth several resolutions in regards to the present and future as well as the challenges and progress made in Harm Reduction,and science-led regulation.

The Harm Reduction Exchange brought together high-level policy makers, physicians, scientists and health policy experts with media stakeholders from Africa in a lively mix of speeches, presentations, and panel discussions. The key note speakers included Prof Abdoul Aziz Kasse, Ms Bernice Opondi, Joseph Magero, Jonathan Fell, Chimwemwe Ngoma, Clive Bates, Dr. Kgosi Letlape, Dr. Vivian Manyeki and Dr. Tendai Mhizha.

 

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Over 2 000 civil servants interdicted

6th December 2022

Over 2,000 civil servants in the public sector have been interdicted for a variety of reasons, the majority of which are criminal in nature.

According to reports, some officers have been under interdiction for more than two years because such matters are still being investigated. Information reaching WeekendPost shows that local government, particularly councils, has the highest number of suspended officers.

In its annual report, the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) revealed that councils lead in corrupt activities throughout the country, and dozens of council employees are being investigated for alleged corrupt activities. It is also reported that disciplined forces, including the Botswana Defence Force (BDF), police, and prisons, and the Directorate of Intelligence and Security (DIS) have suspended a significant number of officers.

The Ministry of Education and Skills Development has also recorded a good number of teachers who have implicated in love relationships with students, while some are accused of impregnating students both in primary and secondary school. Regional education officers have been tasked to investigate such matters and are believed to be far from completion as some students are dragging their feet in assisting the investigations to be completed.

This year, Mmadinare Senior Secondary reportedly had the highest number of pregnancies, especially among form five students who were later forcibly expelled from school. Responding to this publication’s queries, Permanent Secretary to the Office of the President Emma Peloetletse said, “as you might be aware, I am currently addressing public servants across the length and breadth of our beautiful republic. Due to your detailed enquiry, I am not able to respond within your schedule,” she said.

She said some of the issues raised need verification of facts, some are still under investigation while some are still before the courts of law.

Meanwhile, it is close to six months since the Police Commissioner Keabetwe Makgophe, Director General of the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) Tymon Katlholo and the Deputy Director of the DIS Tefo Kgothane were suspended from their official duties on various charges.

Efforts to solicit comment from trade unions were futile at the time of going to press.

Some suspended officers who opted for anonymity claimed that they have close to two years while on suspension. One stated that the investigations that led him to be suspended have not been completed.

“It is heartbreaking that at this time the investigations have not been completed,” he told WeekendPost, adding that “when a person is suspended, they get their salary fully without fail until the matter is resolved”.

Makgophe, Katlholo and Kgothane are the three most high-ranking government officials that are under interdiction.

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Masisi to dump Tsogwane?

28th November 2022

Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) and some senior government officials are abuzz with reports that President Mokgweetsi Masisi has requested his Vice President, Slumber Tsogwane not to contest the next general elections in 2024.

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