Cybercriminals had a field day last year, with cybersecurity advisories issued over the period more than doubling, according to official data.

The Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) shows that advisories on cyberattacks issued by the National Kenya Computer Incident Response Team Co-ordination Centre (KE-CIRT/CC) increased from 24,623 in 2018 to 53,013 in 2019.

According to the data contained in the 2020 Economic Survey, malware attacks increased by 9.2 per cent last year to 5,951, while system vulnerabilities increased from 14,360 to 43,034 over the same period.

Mobile penetration

And as more people resort to using online services to contain the spread of coronavirus, experts are warning that cybercriminals may be circling for the kill.

In 2019, mobile cellular penetration increased by 7.9 per cent to 114.7 per cent per 100 inhabitants, the economic survey shows.

This is due to many Kenyans subscribing to more than one sim card.

Mobile penetration for populations aged over three increased by 8.61 per cent during the period under review.

According to the KNBS report, total mobile commerce transfers subsequently increased by 14.5 per cent to Sh7 trillion last year.

Total mobile telephone subscriptions, on the other hand, increased by 10.2 per cent to 54.6 million. Out of those, 94.5 per cent were pre-paid subscriptions.

Total mobile money transfers, the report says, increased to Sh4.35 trillion, a 9.1 per cent growth from Sh3.98 trillion a year earlier.

Despite the growing attractiveness of social media platforms such as WhatsApp, Short Message Services (SMSs) rose from 63.4 billion in 2018 to 65.3 billion last year.

The number of Internet Service Providers expanded by 18 per cent from 256 in 2018 to 302 in 2019.

This growth is attributable to the increasing demand for fibre optic connection by individuals and businesses. 

Meanwhile, terrestrial mobile data decreased by 13.6 per cent to 39.2 million subscriptions in 2019.

This reduction was linked to mobile operators adopting telecommunication guidelines that required them to separate mobile and data subscriptions.

Mainstream media outlets also increased significantly during the period. The number of FM radio frequencies increased to 917 in 2019, with digital TV stations rising to 146 over the same period. 

The value of ICT exports, the report shows, increased by 12.5 per cent to Sh1.6 billion in the year, with imports increasing by 19.1 per cent to Sh58.7 billion.

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