Safaricom ventures into cybersecurity business

Safaricom MPesa
Safaricom #ticker:SCOM has moved to diversify its business portfolio with the launch of a cybersecurity solution targeted at Kenyan firms. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

Safaricom #ticker:SCOM has moved to diversify its business portfolio with the launch of a cybersecurity solution targeted at Kenyan firms looking to protect their information and communications technology (ICT) systems.

The telecommunications firm, which is the region’s most profitable company, now says it is offering security services to businesses and individuals to help them reduce the risk of loss of money and sensitive data.

The new service will enable firms to secure their emails and websites, manage vulnerabilities, test and audit IT systems as well as access real time monitoring as companies face increasing threats of hacking and fraud from tech-savvy criminals.

“We realise that customers all have unique needs and different budget levels. Our IT cybersecurity solutions are designed to cater for each customer’s needs so that they can get the best value and strategically select their solutions.

"We are excited to see that the solution is gathering interest with some of our customers in the financial services and transport industires already signing up for the service,” said CEO Bob Collymore in a statement.


Cybersecurity attacks

The venture comes as a study last year revealed that financial institutions in Kenya lost approximately Sh21.2 billion to cybersecurity attacks in 2017.

According to a report by IT Solutions firm Serianu, criminals withdrew more than Sh18 billion from victims’ accounts, forcing banks to compensate nearly the same amount.

Several lenders, saccos and even the Kenya Revenue Authority reported losing millions of shillings in daring attacks, forcing firms to scramble for products to increase resilience of their IT systems to attacks.

The highest risks faced by financial institutions came from insider threats, banking malware and ATM skimming.

Growing threats

According to the Communications Authority of Kenya (CA), cyber threats grew quarter on quarter by 11.76 per cent to stand at 3.8 million in September 2018-2019, indicating that Kenyans remain at risk of cyber attacks.
The regulator attributed the increased threats to enhanced cyber threat detection capabilities through deployment of additional sensors and increased resources towards cyber threat analysis.

Globally, 48 percent of cyber ready businesses have reported more than 5 percent increases in annual revenue as well as high stakeholder trust levels, according to a 2018 Vodafone report.

Despite this, only 24 percent of businesses can reasonably call themselves cyber ready.