Technology

Planned Israel ‘iron dome’ in Kenya to keep hackers at bay

cyber crime

The Israeli government is partnering with the Kenyan government to help it build a “Cyber-Dome” – a national defence system - to fend off increasing digital attacks.

Business Daily has learnt that the Israel National Cyber Directorate (INCD) - a State-run defence entity devoted to protecting Israeli cyberspace - is helping the Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) to protect communications networks in the country.

The Israeli Cyber Directorate through its Cyber Emergency Response Team (CERT) has been working to strengthen the protection of Israeli organisations and its citizens in dealing with cyber-attacks and in preparing for emergencies.

“The CERT which is one of the first in the world to help secure financial institutions in Israel is co-operating with the Communication Authority of Kenya and the ICT Authority in Kenya,” Mr Arnon Arbel the minister counsellor and head of economic mission of the Embassy of Israel told Business Daily in an interview.

The Israeli CERT says on its website it receives and handles hundreds of reports and information about cyber-attack attempts or threats, from local and international partners, daily.

Israeli government websites and companies face thousands of attacks daily but most are thwarted.

Israel operates an air defence system famously known as the “Iron Dome” that was initially developed to destroy short-range rockets.

Mr Arbel said private Israeli firms such as cyber security provider Check Point Software Technologies are also eyeing local deals among financial institutions including commercial banks and other corporates.

“We have many companies that offer a variety of solutions based on need,” he said adding that Israel has a framework to ensure its cyber exports do not fall into “the wrong hands.”

NSO Group, an Israeli surveillance firm, has faced widespread allegations that its hacking software Pegasus has been sold to and misused by authoritarian governments across the world.

Pegasus infects phones, allowing operators to extract messages, photos and emails, record calls and secretly activate microphones and cameras.

“We have a mechanism to prevent such technologies from falling into the wrong hands,” he said.

London-based charity Privacy International recently ranked Israel in the top five globally for surveillance technologies, with 27 companies selling such systems.

Israel last year led 10 countries in a US-backed simulation of a major cyberattack on the global financial system in an attempt to increase cooperation that could help to minimise any potential damage to financial markets and banks.

Israel’s Iron Dome defence system also uses automation but is controversial on account of its high cost, disputed effectiveness, and deployment during the ongoing Palestine/Israel conflict, observers say.

Kenyan businesses lose billions of shillings and troves of sensitive information to hackers every year.

Kenya lost about Sh18 billion to cybercrime in 2016, according to an ICT security survey conducted by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) and the CA.

CA through its National Computer Incident Response Team Coordination Centre (National KE-CIRT/CC), earlier warned that cyber criminals have changed tack and are now using third-party software to deliver threats to unsuspecting users in an attempt to compromise and steal their data.

The CA’s warning followed similar cautions raised by local regulators.

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