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Kenya cyber crime rising amid digital disruption, says report

Monday, September 27th, 2021 23:34 |
Digital economy. Photo/Courtesy

Digital disruption and pandemic chaos are fuelling cyber threats, a new report  indicates. It now calls for a holistic approach from cyber security operators if businesses are to survive advance exposure. 

Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) latest data, shows that a whooping 38.8 million cyber threats were detected in just three months to June this year, a 37.3 per cent jump from the 28.2 million cyber criminal activities identified in the first three months of 2021.

The fourth quarter sector statistics report by the authority for the financial year 2020/21 for the period April to June, further attributes the worrying trend to the rise in impersonation, online fraud and abuse cases arising from increased use of the internet.

“This increase in cyber threat events detected is attributed to the significant increase in targetted attacks at Internet of Things (IoT) devices; increased activity by organised cyber crime groups,” noted the industry regulator.

The rising number of cases handled by the authority’s National KE-CIRT/CC is a clear indication that the pandemic is accelerating digital transformation and is to blame for the spike in the number of cyber criminals launching broadened attacks in this super-connected cyberspace.

It received 529 digital investigation requests compared to 298 requests in the previous period, a staggering 7.51 per cent jump. National KE-CIRT/CC, is a National Kenya Computer Incident Response Team, also Coordination Centre created by the State in 2017 to lessen cyber threats and protect businesses. 

It is a multi-agency collaboration framework that is also responsible for the national coordination of cyber security as well as Kenya’s national point of contact on cyber security matters.

Hacking activities targeting corporations have spiked since the pandemic hit as digital thieves took advantage of weakened security as the pandemic forced new work-from-home policies.

Since March this year, companies are reporting increased instances of pony-trekking mainly through password compromises due to the unprecedented changes in the way firms and their employees are currently forced to do business.

Developing threat

The threat is so critical that Central Bank recently cautioned Kenyan businesses to double their guard against the developing threat of cyber criminals, warning that such attacks were likely to increase in frequency.

“While digitisation offers immense opportunities, emerging risks must be kept in view. Cyber security continues to evolve rapidly as more citizens enter the digital realm.

Personal Data trails continue to grow exponentially as the pandemic accelerates the digitalisation of the global economy.

We must therefore ensure that there are sufficient safeguards against these risks to protect our citizens,” CBK noted in December last year.

Financial institutions like banks and credit unions as well as government institutions are deemed most vulnerable in the hands of the faceless criminals.

An estimated 40 Kenyan and 69 South African companies surveyed by Liquid Telecom report dubbed IT and Financial Decision Makers views on Cybersecurity in South Africa and Kenya for instance, published on September last year confirmed financial loss, exit of customers, business closure and declining sales among other damages as the ensuing impact cyber-attacks had on their operations.

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