Saccos tighten security to avoid cyber attacks


From left: Internet Solutions head of cyber security services Bright Mawudor, Asili Sacco national chairman Evans Kegode and Nyati Sacco ICT manager Christine Bunyolia during a conference at Crowne Plaza Hotel in Nairobi last week. PHOTO | SALATON NJAU

Savings and credit co-operative societies will no longer be able to use public Wi-Fi to log onto their online platforms in new efforts to tighten security against cyber attacks.

Solutions developer, CoreTec Systems and Solutions said the move is aimed at denying cyber thieves an easy avenue to access passwordws as well as enjoy free access to individual accounts of sacco members.

“We refused to burry our heads in the sand when several people managed to siphon money from sacco accounts last year,” said CoreTec chief executive Tobias Otieno.

“We held discussions and have tightened security controls and hired an independent firm to monitor our end-to-end activities.”

Speaking in Nairobi, Mr Otieno observed that many saccos opted to remain silent after their systems were corrupted for fear of a backlash that could lead to mass withdrawals, hence risking collapse.

CoreTec, which has been managing sacco mobile platforms for 70 saccos with a total 700,000 members, said realtime system monitoring would automatically detect attempted logins leading to swift realtime responses.

Mr Otieno said they are developing a new platform that will be customised based on individual needs of the saccos that will include new services such as e-commerce platforms.

The new product, largely based on a transactional model will help saccos enjoy higher incomes for payment service providers with members enjoying reduced fee charges.

“We are looking at a co-banking platform that integrates the member accounts to participating merchants based on a strengthened know-your-customer platform that supports digital transactions,” he said.

CoreTec is currently piloting use of Point of Sale gadgets that it sell to merchants at Sh35,000, thereby easing the burden of charges incurred by saccos to maintain sacco-bank links.

“This is a pay-per use service where members pay fees and not their saccos. The PoS gadgets will then be used to pay for bus fare, services at hotels, spas, fuel at petrol stations as well as goods bought from retail outlets,” he said.

The multi-integrated platform seeks to provide a one-stop solution for sacco members who can use the service from any smartphone onto online platforms and feature phones via a USSD premium service.

The POS platforms enhance security via use of biometric passwords where sacco members append their thumb fingerprints to authenticate their identity with instant message confirming the transactions sent to their mobile phones.

“After M-Sacco, the future is to empower sacco members to trade on their platforms,” said Mr Onyango.