Safaricom revamps cyber-security offering for businesses

Safaricom CEO Peter Ndegwa during the launch of the 2023 Safaricom Business Report. [Wilberforce Okwiri, Standard]

Leading telecommunication service provider Safaricom has revamped its cybersecurity offering to businesses on the back of a spike in incidences of cybercrime across the region.

This comes even as more businesses in Kenya today shift the bulk of their operations to the Internet, increasing the scope of attacks for cybercriminals.  

According to Safaricom, over the last couple of months, cyberattacks have been on the rise with ransomware being deployed and businesses being locked out of their own systems.

In an advisory to its customers, Safaricom noted that over the last 12 months, over 50 per cent of all websites in the country had been attacked.

"Small business owners have been asked to pay ransom to regain access to their business systems," stated a cybersecurity expert from Safaricom. "Hotels have been asked to pay huge amounts of money to regain access to their own CCTV databases or to access rooms and booking data."

Saccos and supermarket chains that are characterised by high liquidity but relatively low cybersecurity protections have particularly been hard hit. Some Saccos have been reported to have mysteriously lost member contributions over time while small supermarket chains have been locked out of their systems and unable to serve their clients.

According to the Communications Authority, the country experienced over 187.7 million cyber threats in the first three months of 2023. A majority of these threats were either malware-related or Distributed Denial of Services attacks (DDOS).

Simply put a DDOS attack is a cyberattack that denies users access to a server or network by overloading it with requests.

Some of the attacks that have been reported in recent months have also seen crucial networks in the private and public sectors compromised, putting in jeopardy private and sensitive data of businesses, state agencies and private citizens.  

Safaricom has invested in expanding its cybersecurity  offering under Safaricom Business which entails tailor-made solutions for firms with layered protections from hackers.

Under the model, Safaricom approaches data security from five main standpoints; the first is connectivity under which Safaricom offers both its physical fibre optic infrastructure and its 4G and 5G Internet services to ensure businesses have fast secure and uninterrupted access to their systems.

Unlike other service providers, Safaricom Fibre provides firewall and domain filtering capabilities by default. This simply means that while other service providers require customers to opt into the provision of the service or contract a third party to provide a firewall and domain filter, all Safaricom fibre connections come already enabled with the two capabilities.

The capabilities extend to anti-malware protection that protects users from malware including Trojans, worms, and adware alongside site blockers that safeguard users from unsafe and unsecure sites.

The connection is further bolstered by VPN support services that ensure secure and encrypted internet access with Safaricom’s team offering direct support services.

The second is cyber security, which uses Safaricom’s infrastructure to offer both onsite and remote support to its customers. The offering includes threat assessment and advisory services on how to protect both sensitive and confidential data alongside customer data.

The service is coupled with the third aspect, developer operations under which Safaricom hires out its experts to maintain existing systems, build onto existing systems or develop other systems to support their clientele.

The fourth aspect is disaster recovery and backups that ensure system failures do not result in the loss of sensitive or operational data. The final aspect is web hosting, under this component Safaricom hosts business websites and offers protection from potential threats from hackers or malware that may seek to infiltrate an organization.

Safaricom Business’s five-tiered approach to cyber security offers businesses whether micro, small or large a one-stop shop for all data and cybersecurity-related needs.

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