Cyber-attacks surge 159pc as 35 million threats are detected

Working from home has made Kenyans more vulnerable to cyber attacks, with instances of bullying and online theft rising astronomically last year.

This is a result of more people shifting their work patterns in a bid to tame the spread of coronavirus.

Cyber criminals took advantage of the increase in the number of people working remotely or using e-commerce platforms, with firms and individuals now reporting increased number of online scams, loss of money or theft of important information.

According to the Communications Authority of Kenya (CA), the number of cyber threats detected in the quarter to September more than doubled compared to the quarter to June 2020.

The Kenya Computer Incident Response Team (Ke-Cirt), which is housed by CA, reported a 152.9 per cent increase in the number cyber-attacks over the quarter.

It attributed the rise to more people working remotely and in turn emboldening criminals who have been on the prowl, looking for loopholes that they can exploit to scam Kenyans.

Other than the corporate emails and online shopping platforms, the cyber-criminals also targeted learning platforms as well as other sites frequented by minors.

Many of these minors have been home schooling as well as accessing social media platforms, and in many instances unsupervised.

“The National Ke-Cirt/CC detected 35.2 million cyber threat events, which was a 152.9 per cent increase from 13.9 million threat events detected in the previous quarter,” said CA in a report on the state of the ICT sector in Kenya, covering the quarter to September.

“This increase in cyber threat attacks detected was attributed to the move to working remotely and increased uptake of e-commerce in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.”

There was also increased vulnerability of organisations and businesses to cyber-criminals who targeted remote working systems and tools, and e-commerce sites for fraudulent gains.

“During this period there was also an increase in online abuse and online fraud cases reported to the National KE-CIRT//CC,” stated CA.

The Authority noted that incidences of child abuse remained high, as the majority of children were still home due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

There is also the possibility of unsupervised access to the Internet for education and socialisation purposes.

“Cyberbullying and internet trolling cases were also on the rise, with these being used for malicious intent across Kenyan domains and social media platforms,” said CA.

“National Ke-Cirt/CC received 354 requests from investigative agencies. This was a 36.15 per cent increase in requests received as compared to 260 in the previous period of April -June 2020.”

“During this period, there was an increase in child online abuse, online abuse and online fraud. Of these requests, 1.7 per cent related to child online abuse, 36.2 per cent being attributed to online abuse and 27.4 per cent linked to online fraud.”

Kenya reported its positive case of Covid-19 in March 2020, which saw companies allow employees to work remotely, and in certain instances entailed a review of ICT systems.

A September 2020 report by Liquid telecom also indicated that a majority of companies in Kenya and South Africa recorded an increase in cyber security threats during the pandemic.

According to the report, 75 per cent of firms sampled in Kenya reported increased cyber security threats.

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