Cyber Threat is Real in Kenya as Number of Internet Users Surge

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The number of Internet users in Kenya has grown to 31.9 million from 29.6 million in the previous quarter according to the quarterly sector statistics report by the Communications Authority of Kenya (CA).

In the report,  the portion of the Kenyan population accessing Internet services reached 74.2 per 100 inhabitants up from 69.0 per 100 inhabitants recorded in the previous quarter.

This is positive news for the country on the back of being ranked number one in inclusive financial services by the Brookings Institution’s 2016 Financial and Digital Inclusion Project with an overall score of 84 percent.

Indeed, the global phenomenon of people’s mobility is with us, thanks to advances in technology. The ‘global village’ prophecy has become a reality – international schooling, business or trade development, immigration with related problems like those of refugees r displaced persons. and the trend is that people from foreign and alien cultures are being brought closer together at an even more accelerated rate.

For instance, in Kenya, Mr Stephen Mwaura, Central bank of Kenya (CBK Assistant Director National Payments System reported that the amount transacted through Real Time Gross Settlement (RTGS) far outstrips about Sh15 billion that is transacted daily on the M-Pesa platform.

Further, Kenya’s e-commerce market is on steady as mobile internet performance continues to improve, as more people embrace digital transactions.

The Kenyan government is committed to investing more resources for the ICT sector to thrive improve service delivery but also cut transaction costs and safeguard Government revenue.

However, Dr. Bitange Ndemo in an op-end 2015, said, “There is an emerging hidden data economy, a market place for stolen digital information. Data is what drives the digital economy.”

“There is reason for Kenya to be worried about the emerging security threats and urgently address capacity, regulatory and advisory gaps. The number of electronic transactions increase by the day as banks expand their customer base, government through Huduma Centres is vast moving online, e-commerce is on the rise and every supermarket is gathering customer data under the guise of customer loyalty programmes.

We have effectively established the motivation for cyber criminals to target Kenya. Even more complex is the emerging trend by some software companies that are paying hackers to steal data from users and demanding ransom for the stolen data,” he adds.

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The cyber threat is real.

Kenyan firms lost close to 15 billion shillings through cybercrime in 2015 with the public sector being the most affected and according to the 2015 Cyber Security Report.

The report stated that the amount lost had tripled since 2014 raising questions about the security of Kenya and its readiness to fight the menace of cybercrime.

Cybercrime poses a real and persistent threat to business, government and financial institutions.

The Kenyan Section of International Commission of Jurists ( ICJ Kenya) notes that besides the internet and mobile technologies are today creating new ways to connect, share resources and experience and build communities, technology can also be used in ways that are harmful. Technology assisted violence against women is a distinct form of violence against women, whereby technology forms the mode or medium through which the violence is committed. Developments in technology have created virtual and digital spaces for interaction that never existed and were never contemplated before.

ICJ Kenya says in Kenya, there are increasing reports of incidences of hate or offensive speech, cyber stalking, sexual harassment, hacking, impersonation, extortion, defamation, fake employment opportunities, surveillance and unauthorised use of personal information including images and videos. In Kenya, most of these have targeted prominent personalities who form easy targets for criminals, given their profile and gender.

In 2014, the Government of Kenya came up with a CyberSecurity Strategy in recognition that it faces an increasingly evolving cyber threat landscape.

The strategy defines Kenya’s cybersecurity vision, key objectives, and ongoing commitment to support national priorities by encouraging ICT growth and aggressively protecting critical information infrastructures.

“We see cybersecurity as a key component in that commitment, providing organizations and individuals with increased confidence in online and mobile transactions, encouraging greater foreign investment, and opening a broader set of trade opportunities within the global marketplace,” reads a part of it.

To bolster its efforts in securing the online environment for citizens, industry, and foreign partners; increasing the Kenyan people’s confidence in online transactions, data security, fraud protection, and privacy; encouraging greater foreign investment and enhancing trade opportunities; and enabling Kenya’s broader economic and societal goals, the government has a draft  Computer and Cyber Crimes Bill, 2016.

The Cyber Crimes Bill, 2016, is intended to provide for offences relating to computer systems; to enable timely and effective collection of forensic material for use as evidence, and facilitate international cooperation in dealing with cybercrime matters and for connected purposes.

Read:  

Outrage Among Kenyans Against Proposed ICT Practitioners Bill

Strathmore University launches first in region Cyber Security Masters of Science program 

Subsequently, to interrogate on these initiatives being put in place, the Nairobi Law Institute (NLI) in partnership with the Kenya Cyber Security and Forensics Association are set to hold a two days annual national conference ( 3rd and 4th November 2016)  on cybercrime in Nairobi.

The event is premised on the theme ‘Rethinking Cyber Crime in a Dynamic Economy in Achieving Vision 2030.’ The theme embodies the contemporary economic and security threats industries are facing with the raise of cyber-crime in today’s dynamic economy. According to NLI as the country is gearing to achieve the goals set out in Vision 2030, the cyber security risks should be identified and mitigated.

The conference will discuss issues relating to Big Data, Cloud Computing, Electronic and Mobile Commerce (for online and mobile money transactions), Financial Technology, Cyber Fraud and Cyber Terrorism,  Cyber Policies and Laws and Cyber-Entrepreneur Opportunities.

Key speakers include: Dr  Elijah Bitange Ndemo,  Former Principal Secretary ICT,  Mr  Edwin Kariuki – Managing Director Isolutions,  Mr Gilbert Kituyi, Senior ICT Officer/ICT Security in the Public Service Commission, Mr Dan Kwach, Managing Director East Africa Data Centre, Mr Fred Fedynyshyn- Chief Legal and Compliance Officer Bitpesa among others.

 

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About Author

David Indeje

David Indeje is a writer and editor, with interests on how technology is changing journalism, government and society. He has been practicing Journalism since 2008. Environment, Agriculture Business, Health and Gender Development stories are his passion. David can be reached on: (020) 528 0222 or Email: info@ye42a.hosts.cx