In Summary

  • Several years ago, in 2009, Kenya launched TEAMS, the first submarine cable that connected the East African coast to the global internet.
  • A high-speed link to the global Internet is good for the country, but also for highly skilled cyber criminals seated comfortably abroad
  • This is made worse when the magistrates adjudicating the case may have no clue about what the defence and prosecution counsel are arguing about.

Recent press reports indicate that Kenya’s progress in ICT has now matured, to a point where we are a target of interest for both global and local cybercriminals.

Banks, the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA), the National Transport and Safety Authority (NTSA), mobile operators and the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) are included in a list of major organisations cited as being recent victims of an elaborate cybercrime syndicate.

It is, indeed, a wake-up call for organisations, both in the private and public sector, to set up, fund and operationalise their information security departments. 

Many organisations jump onto the computerisation bandwagon with little or no regard for how they will secure their ICT investments against cyber attacks. Information security tends to be secondary, or an afterthought that comes to mind only after being hit hard by cyber-criminals.  How did we get so exposed?

POMP AND COLOUR

Several years ago, in 2009, Kenya launched TEAMS, the first submarine cable to connect the East African coast to the global internet.

For the first time in the history of communications, all East African countries could now enjoy high-speed communications that were 100 or more times faster than the satellite links that previously connected us to the internet. There was pomp and colour as President Kibaki commissioned and celebrated the project.

A few analysts noted that global cybercriminals would be amongst those celebrating the feat in great interest. They could now remotely deploy their hacking tools on a state that was previously protected from attacks by its very poor international connectivity.

A high-speed link to the global Internet is good for the country, but also for highly-skilled cyber criminals seated comfortably abroad, collaborating with their local counterparts to mount attacks on critical infrastructure.

Are we prepared to deal with these attacks? Unfortunately not. 

SPLIT THE LOOT

Yes, we have made tremendous progress in terms of instituting and equipping national cyber-security teams, both in national security agencies and the private sector.   However, we have failed to address the weakest link in the security chain.

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