State warned on ditching copyrighted software

By Fredrick Obura

Information Technology firms are warning of increased cyber-attack should the Government move to ditch copyrighted software.

Last week, the Government issued a warning that in the next three years it will move its IT operations to Free and Open Source Software (FOSS), a move that will reduce cost by more than half in IT expenses.

Microsoft said the move is risky and bound to make Government systems more vulnerable to hackers.

“We agree with the open standards but not the free and open source software strategy,” said Paul Roy Owino, technology advisor, Microsoft East and Southern Africa.

“The Government stands to lose to hackers, freedom to third party modification coming with Free and Open Source Software it plans to adopt increases chances of Internet attacks,” he said “I do not think the Government has competent expertise to handle the challenges that comes with the free and Open Source Software,” he said.

Less accountability

Owino said through the Free and Open Source Software the Sate might find it hard to hold anyone accountable should its systems be hacked

“Just like other players in the copyrighted software, we are accountable when our software is hacked, the case is different with the non-copyrighted software,” he said.

Speaking on the sidelines of business security conference in Nairobi, Roy decried lack of qualified personnel, and proper data protection laws to deal with rising cyber crime.

He called for speedy enactment of Data Protection Bill 2012 and vigilance among the Internet Service Providers to tame growing cases of cyber crime. At present, most government databases and computer platforms use proprietary software provided by vendors such as Microsoft, Oracle and Cisco but which the Government says is more costly compared to Foss.

Save costs

Directorate of e-government said talks are on and in the next three years all government operations including database shall be migrated to non-copyrighted software.

Kate Getao director of e-Government in the Office of the President said the migration will see related costs reduce by 20 per cent initially but improve to 80 per cent on the entire shift expected in three years’ time. Oracle, which offers both copyrighted and non-copyrighted software solution, said the government might not get the best through the planned shift.

“Today, customers are using Oracle together with open source technologies are reaping the benefits of lower costs, easier manageability and  scalability advantages,” said Gurhan Kalelioglu, Oracle Vice-President Turkey, Central Asia, West and East Africa region.

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