Market News

Kenyan firms risk higher cybercrime

Samresh Ramjith. PHOTO | SALATON NJAU | NMG
Samresh Ramjith. PHOTO | SALATON NJAU | NMG 

Deeper Internet penetration and growing mobile-based products have exposed Kenyan companies to bigger threats of cybercrime, experts at audit and consult firm Ernst & Young (EY) say.

Kenyan firms are increasingly investing in mobile and digital innovations as an efficient and cost-effective way of reaching customers, buoyed by rising Internet penetration. Internet penetration, largely driven by use of smartphones, stood at 65.8 per cent, or 29.4 million subscriptions in June, latest data from Communications Authority of Kenya shows.

EY’s Cybersecurity Leader Advisory Services Ltd Samresh Ramjith said the trend however presents a downside of rising cybercrime risk.

“This is because cyber criminality follows broadband and Internet penetration. As we become more online, these risks and threats start manifesting themselves,” Mr Ramjith told reporters at a meeting on digital disruption and cyber-security for the financial services sector in Nairobi yesterday.

“One of the clearest statistics is that this market isn’t slowing down from a cybercrime perspective. This is growing year-on-year by close to double-digit.”

The Central Bank of Kenya said in its annual supervision report for 2016 that fraud in computer, mobile and Internet banking was on the rise based on cases reported to the Banking Fraud and Investigation Department. Banks, the primary target for hackers, have up to November 30 to adopt new cybersecurity regulations developed by the CBK. 

The lenders, as a minimum requirement, have been ordered to formulate policy, strategy and a framework to fight the crime.

They are also required to elevate chief information security officers to the senior managerial level to enforce cyber security policy and oversee implementation of the strategy.

EY Country Managing Partner Celestine Munda said cyber-security requires attention at the board level to avoid reactive investment when attacks, which mostly go unreported, occur.