Firms on the alert as cyber threats spike

Hacker using a mobile phone with icon diagram features to hack into cyberspace and steal online personal data. [Getty Images]

Kenyan businesses are on high alert as increased digitisation fuels incidences of cybercrime  that has seen firms lose millions of shillings.

The adoption and evolution of new technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) in the recent past has also meant that hackers have gained access to more sophisticated tools with which to carry out attacks undetected.

A survey released by FinAccess, the Central Bank of Kenya and Kenya National Bureau of Statistics, KNBS last month, the majority of medium-sized enterprises (MSEs) in the country now use digital channels in business transactions.

"The proportion of respondents who reported to have deployed at least one digital channel in business transactions has increased from 73.5 per cent in the October 2022 survey to 85.6 per cent in the June 2023 survey," stated the survey in part.

Digitalization was highest for female-owned, urban and owner-operated businesses as well as among businesses where owners were between the ages of 18–25 years. 

While some businesses have incorporated messaging apps and social media pages in their day-to-day operations, websites still rank highly as a point of interaction with customers.

Traditionally businesses have had to utilize multiple service providers to get support for both their online and physical systems. As a result, an interruption at one point in the system can easily result in the interruption of that all-important customer journey from click to sale.

Safaricom enhanced its offering to businesses through its Safaricom Business arm presenting a new value proposition for firms. The dedicated service is set to offer businesses in both the MSME and SME categories a one-stop shop for all their business needs.

The service is built on four pillars, the first is a connection that offers both fibre optic connection for physical locations and 4G LTE and 5G internet connectivity for mobile devices alongside prepaid call and bulk SMS plans for businesses and their staff.

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.

Safaricom Businesses also offers domain and website hosting for businesses. For fleet-dependent businesses or utility-reliant businesses, the connection pillar offers smart device management through Safaricom Business Internet of Things (IoT) service that includes fleet management and tracking alongside utility management services such as smart water management and conservation.

The second pillar is protection, yes this includes cyber security which is becoming a concern for both businesses and customers. For instance, in the last 12 months alone, 50% of all .co.ke internet domains have been hacked.

The sophistication of the hacks has been a grave concern for businesses as in extreme cases ransomware has been deployed locking businesses out of their own systems.

Hotels had to pay to regain access to their CCTV, room access and booking data, Saccos have mysteriously lost member contributions over time and small supermarket chains have been locked out of their systems stopping them from serving clients.

Under this pillar, Safaricom business leverages its fibre connection, domain and web hosting solutions to offer support and protect businesses from cyber-attacks. The service also extends to disaster recovery and backups while supporting physical security systems such as CCTV.

The third pillar is enabling, under this pillar Safaricom offers business system support services such as HRM, ERP, Email and document management. This enables businesses to gain access to management tools that are often out of reach for small organizations and sole proprietorships.

The final pillar is transformation which offers direct support by linking businesses to experts including developers to either build in tailor-made solutions or improve on existing systems.

Under the four pillars, Safaricom Business offers the ultimate platform to enable businesses to outsource both digital and physical aspects of their operations and can be tailor-made to a fixed-cost affordable package to suit any business.

To learn more check www.business.safaricom.co.ke

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