Expert Decries Increase in Cyber Attacks during Covid-19

Mr. Nasongo

According to the latest Communication Authority (CA) data, Kenya’s economy lost over Ksh.35 billion due to cyber-attacks after having reported more than 56 million cyber threats for the quarter ended, December 2020, a 59% increase from threats detected in the previous quarter.

The Group Chief, Information Security Officer at I&M Bank, Mr. Nelson Nasongo, said, the increase in cyber-crime was recorded highest in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic which saw many people operate online and increased uptake of e-commerce.

Speaking during a webinar organized by Africa – ai- Japan project and hosted by Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT) on Friday, June 11, 2021, titled:  Factors Enabling Cybercrime in the Region, Mr. Nasongo noted that “The pandemic is one of the major reasons of increased cybercrime as many people accessed services online.

However, the cyber security expert stated that as a country, we are moving towards digital transformation, therefore, we are working to ensure people learn to safeguard themselves in the digital space.

“The only reason it keeps increasing is because most of the time no action is taken. Majority of cyber-attacks victims choose to remain silent with fear of reputation damage and legal reputations, therefore, these cases keep occurring and in the same manner,” Mr. Nasongo added.

Studies reveal that older people are prone to these scams mainly due to their lack of awareness. This is one of the biggest reasons why the older population still prefer to do things the traditional way, and are reluctant to adopt, newer, easier methods.

With the pandemic urging us to work through the internet, large groups of people have sought different approaches to put up their business online. This has indeed led to massive surge in the amount of the businesses that have gone online, leading to an increase in the number of scammers.

“We have unfortunately very organized actors who work as businesses. They group, hire, train, target victims and expand their resource and reach,” he stated.

“But their targets who are disjointed fear of ruining their reputations and don’t want to be seen as weak entity, therefore once an organization becomes a victim, it doesn’t share its experience with others,” Mr. Nasongo elucidated.

In his contribution during the session, the Dean, School of Food and Nutritional Science, Prof. Daniel Sila, said an increasing number of cyber-attacks targeting higher education institutions and universities points to the need for effective security and greater emphasis on university-based education and research.

Currently, cyber-attacks in universities are not regarded as serious issues and are bundled up as simple information technology-based problems, which is false.

“JKUAT is known as a very strong university in the area of ICT and I think cyber-crime is living with us right now, therefore we need to really understand how we can navigate and safeguard ourselves from cyber-crime because this is thriving right now,” Prof. Sila observed.

“We need knowledge, research and capacity to do this but we need linkage to the industry to be able to navigate through the work together,” Prof. added.

Prof. Hiroshi Koaze, Chief advisor of the African -ai- Japan project thanked all the participants and the speaker of the day for challenging the university to improve the curriculum so that it can protect the students and staff against cyber attacks in the near future.

The rise in cyber threats have seen businesses lose billions of shillings and sensitive information to hackers. This has forced firms, especially in the financial sector, to be vigilant.

Prof. Koaze makes his remarks during the webinar

In order to develop a national cybersecurity management framework and to ensure the safety of Kenyan cyberspace, the Communication Authority of Kenya (CAK), established the National Kenya Computer Incident Response Team – Coordination Centre (National KE-CIRT/CC), a multi-agency association framework responsible for the national harmonization of cybersecurity reporting and incident responses.

The webinar session was moderated by the Director, School of Computing and Information Technology, Dr. Michael Kimwele.

Comments are closed.