Kenya cyber attacks up by half to 37m in one quarter


ICT minister Joe Mucheru: In 2017, he warned banks were some of the institutions targeted in computer attacks globally. FILE PHOTO | NMG

Kenyan organisations were hit by about 37.1 million cyber threats in the last three months of last year compared to the previous quarter, representing a 47.3 percent increase.

New data from the Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) shows that its incident response centre detected growing cases of malware, web application attacks, system misconfiguration and online abuse.

The CA’s cyber intelligence team consequently issued 16,637 cyber threat advisories to the affected, a 2.8 percent increase from the 17,127 alerts between July and September 2019.

“During the period between October and December 2019, the National Kenya Computer Incident Response Team/Coordination Centre detected 37.1 million cyber threat events as compared to 25.2 million cyber threat events detected in the period July — September 2019,” said the CA.

“This was a 47.3 percent increase as compared to the previous quarter, which is attributed to an exponentially high number of malware threats detected, as demonstrated by increased number of cyber threat advisories issued during the quarter.”

The rise in cyber threats has forced firms, especially in the financial sector, to be vigilant and created businesses opportunities for others as they spent more on protection.

Kenyan businesses lose billions of shillings and troves of sensitive information to hackers every year, according to experts and various reports. Kenya lost about Sh18 billion to cybercrime in 2016, according to an ICT security survey conducted by Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) and the CA.

The Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) warned in 2017 local lenders are exposed to cyberattacks and ICT-enabled fraud.

The CBK noted that data on fraud reported to Banking Fraud and Investigation Department indicates cases relating to computer, mobile and Internet banking are rising.

The industry regulator has since launched cyber security guidelines to help banks deal with cybercrimes and prepare for emerging threats.

Kenyan banks were among the institutions targeted in a large-scale attack against computers worldwide, ICT Secretary Joe Mucheru said in 2017.

A computer virus called “WannaCry” spread through e-mail crippled all services at public hospitals in the UK, froze some computers used by the Russian Interior ministry, impaired operations in German train stations among other disastrous outcomes.