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Firms, web users warned to brace for vicious cyberattacks

By Lee Mwiti | February 8th 2017

Kenyans have been warned to brace for more cyberattacks this year, owing to what experts say are its weak controls.

A new report by financial services firm Deloitte titled Technology, Media and Telecommunications Predictions 2017 singles out the country as having some of the “weakest and most vulnerable” Information Communication and Technology (ICT) systems in the world.

The report says Kenya was ranked position 69 out of 127 countries last year in the Global Threat Index, down from position 45 in 2015.

Last year, the country lost a whopping $171 million (Sh17.4 billion) to cybercriminals alone.

The losses, amounting to 0.28 of the entire Gross Domestic Product (GDP), were blamed on weak and vulnerable systems.

The report paints a gloomy picture of the insecure nature of ICT systems, claiming that hackers are using “ordinary” people such as office cleaners to get into companies’ ICT systems.

“Most firms outsource services such as cleaning and even IT services from individuals who they have not done a proper background check on. This makes it easy for hackers to blend in,” said Deloitte Associate Director Erik Van Der Dussen during the report’s release in Nairobi yesterday.

The report faults Kenya’s poor investment in ICT infrastructure and lack of awareness about the realities of cybercrime, saying they are the leading causes of the attacks.

Companies, especially in the financial services sector, the report says, have invested poorly in ICT infrastructure, therefore, putting their clients’ money at risk.

“We have noticed a worrying trend where 96 per cent of Kenyan companies invest only $5,000 (Sh509,000) in infrastructure to guard against cybercrime,” said Mr Dussen.

He said cyber-attacks are expected to go up this year as more people get more exposure to the Internet through mobile phones.

He said the proliferation of Internet Service Providers (ISPs) offering cheap Internet connections in homes without secure systems will further render the country’s systems vulnerable.

Mr Dussen further explained that new technology such as bitcoins – virtual currencies – which are a favourite for hackers, will continue attracting cyber criminals if left unchecked.

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