Corporate

Special IDs planned for net users to curb attacks

Users of Internet and other digital services will soon have special identification certificates to stem rising cybercrime.
Information PS Bitange Ndemo said the Kenya ICT Board had identified a firm to supply and install a Public Key Infrastructure (PKI), a system that provides digital certificates that can identify individuals or organisations.

Dr Ndemo said the firm would be named at the beginning of December when all tender procedures, including potential appeals by losers, are exhausted.
A recent cyber security report by IT security consulting firm Serianu found that more than 80 per cent of Kenyan websites could be easily hacked because they operate on a software whose security codes are available online for free.

PKI enables users of public networks such as the Internet to securely exchange data and money through encrypted security logs shared through a trusted interface “We are moving fast towards records automation and these systems need to be protected because some people have evil intentions,” Dr Ndemo said at a media briefing ahead of the East African Cyber Security Convention 2012 to be held next month.

“We will keep reviewing our policies and legislation to keep pace with technology.” Demand for PKI solutions has grown with the acceleration of e-commerce and business-to-business commerce.

The government is also keen to protect its online services as it moves to digitise information at key departments like Lands, the Judiciary, Finance and Immigration.

Inability to authenticate documents and lack of digital signatures has stifled the uptake of electronic commerce of business to business transactions such as sealing a sales agreement online despite the vast telecommunication infrastructure available across the country.

“Currently, organisations such as banks that provide online banking get the authentication signatures abroad which is quite expensive. By developing our own infrastructure this would bring down the costs,” said Evans Kahumbu, the PKI project manager at Kenya ICT board.

Although end users like banks would not have to invest in hardware or software, they would have to invest on applications that are PKI compatible.

According to IT security services company McAfee, increased by 43 per cent in the third quarter globally and now tops $2.5 billion (Sh210 billion) in revenues.

Cyber Security Africa, which is organising the conference, says cyber threats are the most pressing challenges to organisations.

“With a few strokes of a keyboard, states, terrorist groups, stateless organisations and rogue individuals can launch a cyber-attack from anywhere, at any time, disrupting and damaging democracies and way of life,” said Sammy Kioko, Cyber Security Africa alliance manager.

The East Africa cyber security convention brings together government and private sector players in IT, security and business to explore a common front for fighting cyber crime.

mokuttah@ke.nationmedia.com