We are living in an increasingly connected world where technology and internet play significant roles in our everyday activities.
Kenya especially has leaped in bounds in all matters technology. The things we do, the gadgets we touch, the services we receive and the lifestyle we dwell in have aspects of technology that can no longer be ignored.
This includes banking, home appliances, mobile phones, entertainment gadgets, wearables and basic government procurement services. The country has also employed considerable technology in conducting its elections!
Ideally, the importance of technology in our present-day existence and in future cannot be gainsaid. These gains have seen institutions and corporates align their businesses to be techno-savvy, so as to cater for their clients with an increasing appetite for technology-based services and products.
Unfortunately, the expanding cyber space we are experiencing is also a ripe recipe for various forms of cyber-attacks.
In years past, these types of crimes were few and far apart. Cyber threats have since matured, morphing into well-oiled syndicates with the potential to wreck devastating damages to institutions in terms of reputation, operations, finances and general data breaches.
Hackers are also having insatiable fetish for small businesses (SMEs) as they are often unprepared for attacks. Due to their small size of their businesses, SMEs tend to falsely believe that they are encapsulated from attacks due to their small nature.
Unbeknownst to them, their innovative nature and growing customer acquisition makes them attractive prey to hackers.
Unknowingly, some of them may actually offer that gateway to attack multinationals as they are often subcontracted to offer services to the big Corporations.
In short, no one is immune to cyber attacks. Before, cybersecurity threats were limited to phishing, user access, and some aspects of data manipulation.
The threats are now graver and injurious. They include breach of privacy and security of personally identifiable information, stealing an organisation’s intellectual property, confiscating online bank accounts, creating and distributing viruses on computers, posting confidential business information on the Internet, with the potential for disrupting a country’s critical national infrastructure.
In a survey conducted by Kenya National Bureau of Statistics and the Communications Authority of Kenya (CA), Kenya lost about Sh18 billion ($175 million) to cybercrime in 2016.
With these disturbing statistics, one would expect organisations (whether multinationals or startups) to identify cyber security as priority for business growth.
The government must protect its people from cyber-crime to an increasing usage of smartphones and apps.
Presently, the Computer and Cybercrime Bill 2016, a legislative framework that will seal loopholes used by cyber fraudsters to perpetrate offences in the country, is awaiting debate and enactment by parliament.
To manage these risks, companies should put in place strategies and plans to deal with hacks or attacks. Periodically, it is advisable to carry out independent audits in order to ascertain vulnerabilities and patch up systems.
To better manage and achieve this, firms are advised to partner with legitimate cyber security providers to safeguard their clients’ data.
Geoffrey Shimanyula is General manager, SimbaNET Kenya.