Will massive techies layoffs trigger cyber fraud frenzy?


Redundancies, while challenging, are sometimes necessary to ensure sustainability. FILE PHOTO | SHUTTERSTOCK

The mass layoffs of highly-qualified techies have sparked fears of a rise in cybercrime. Analysts have raised concerns that the unemployed techies, having gained top-notch skills from multinational organisations and financial institutions, may hit back by using malware to steal millions of shillings from online banking accounts.

Some of them have a good understanding of the internal systems and can easily cripple the former employer's network.

Kaspersky’s Digital Footprint Intelligence (DFI) study on the net job market, already shows that the industry is witnessing a spike in people seeking training courses that will enhance their hacking skills.

The report notes that those signing up for training are taught among other cyber attacking skills, how to create malware and phishing pages, compromise corporate infrastructure, and hack companies’ web and mobile applications.

In Kenya, financial institutions are already facing the heat from cyberattacks.

Banks issue alerts

Banks have been issuing alerts to their customers, asking them to be vigilant and not to share their personal details while transacting online, following allegations of missing cash.

Others have been forced to suspend their mobile banking after scammers gained access to the system. Hackers seem to be having a field day as they disguise themselves as bank employees.

So lucrative is the hacking training venture that reports indicate the tutors earn figures ranging between Sh161,915 and Sh498,200 per month.

With more jobs in the darknet market, analysts opine that it will be close to impossible for recently laid-off techies to just sit back and let pass the temptation.

“It will be the height of insanity to expect frustrated and broke tech experts who have been laid off, with their level of skill and knowhow, to just sit back and languish in desperation while there exist money-spinning openings. The worst of cybercrime activities is in the offing,” says Bernard Kinyanjui of Juja-based Bentech Solutions.


Anthony Muiyuro is the president of the Information Systems Audit and Control Association Kenyan Chapter

Anthony Muiyuro, the president of the Information Systems Audit and Control Association Kenyan Chapter says the layoffs, coming at a time when the global economy is reeling from multiple shocks inflicted in recent years, are likely to trigger an upsurge in scams and other types of fraud.

“There is some evidence that job losses and economic uncertainty might boost various sorts of crime, including cybercrime. The degree to which this will be visible in the aftermath of the current wave of major layoffs from IT businesses, however, is impossible to anticipate,” says Mr Muiyuro.

“With how interconnected the world has become, the internet remains a crucial factor for the operations of numerous organisations. An increase in cybercrime will come in the form of phishing schemes and other related hacking efforts,” he adds.

However, Kenya’s ambassador to Belgium Bitange Ndemo, who has also written many research papers on technology, is of a contrary view.

“There is no evidence that layoffs will cause a spike in cybercrime. Most cybercriminals come from rogue nations sometimes supported by State agencies,” says Prof. Ndemo.

Over the years, the question of cybersecurity has stubbornly remained a pain point for most developing countries where the wave of technological revolution is just taking root.

In Kenya for instance, cybercrime incidents have been on a steady rise over the past two years with tech stakeholders struggling to devise ways to curb the vice.

Communications Authority of Kenya data shows that during the three months to September last year, cybercrimes and related threats in the country rose 199 percent to 278 million with small firms reporting the highest number of incidents.

Kenya has recently been ranked position 78 globally on digital well-being by Cyber security company Surfshark.

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