The Increase in Cyber Threats in 2019

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It is being anticipated by National Cybersecurity Centre (NCC) that in the first quarter of 2018-2019 there will be over3.8 Mn cyber threats, with a high indication that Kenyans will go on to be at high risk of online attacks. As per a new report by the Communications Authority of Kenya (CA), the cyber threats depict an increase of 11.76 percent from the last quarter of the year where 3.4 Mn threats were detected. The CA attributed the growth in cyber threats has been able to get identified owing to deployment of additional sensors as well as increased resources towards cyber threat analysis.

As quoted in the report by CA it is being said that the cyber threats detected range from denial-of-service (DoS) including botnet and brute-force attacks that can lead to denial of computer services and illegal admittance to computer systems. Website attacks including defacement; online impersonation via social media accounts and domain names; malware like phishing attacks; online abuse including online fraud, hate speech, persuasion to violence and fake news; and systems misconfiguration.

The report revealed the susceptibleness of Kenyans’ personal information and money in a nation where financial institutions are anxious to integrate digital technology to keep up with telcos which plays a crucial role in facilitating transactions. Alongside recently CA has warned of a malware dubbed Emotet that has accessed confidential information of Kenyans using online banking and payment systems. As per to the United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team, the malware, which impacted 11 Kenyan institutions, can cost up to $1 Mn (Sh102 Mn)per incident to resolve. Deposit-taking Savings and Credit Co-Operative Society, which boasted a total assets portfolio of Sh442.3 Bn in 2017 have also become highly vulnerable with cybersecurity gaining momentum. This increases the risk of loss of deposits by the more than 3.5 Mn Kenyans who have enrolled.

Nearly 70 percent of the 174 Savings and Credit Co-Operative Society across the country have mobile applications for their consumers. According to a statement by IT services consulting firm Serianu, 97 percent of Savings and Credit Co-Operative Society spend less than the threshold $10,000 (Sh1.02 Mn) on cybersecurity, which has opened the doors for cybercriminals to get the information efficiently. The CA report paints a picture of enhanced cyber threats in the form of malware, system misconfiguration, online impersonation, and web application attacks. However, there is a marked drop-off in online abuse. The 6,384 cases which the NCC concluded to be of high-importance and escalated for action were 2.4 times those reported in the previous quarter.

Some regulations have been affected to safeguard Kenyans. For example, the Sacco Societies Regulatory Authority has made a set of guidelines public which set minimum standards that Savings and Credit Co-Operative Society should follow to develop effective cybersecurity governance and risk management frameworks. However, Kenyans remain in limbo over the Cyber Crimes Bill after the High Court suspended 22 sections of the law temporarily when industry players criticized it for targeting content creators rather than looking out for citizens’ digital well being.