Experts push for cybercrime awareness amid virus fears

Tuesday, May 11th, 2021 00:00 | By
Cybercrime. Photo/Courtesy

Cyber-crime continues to gain momentum in developing economies and many of its impacts, albeit significant, remain largely unseen.

And after the Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) recently warned of increasing cybercrime threat to Kenya’s economy after attacks increased to 56.2 million cases in what is a more than 50 per cent surge, many players in the local market are fast taking note.

In its sector statistics report for the fourth quarter of 2020, the sector regulator noted that cybercrime cases had nearly doubled from 35.1 million in 2019 to 56.2 million incidences in the last quarter of last year.

This as the country increasingly embrace the digital economy, pointing to a need to protect the integrity of electronic and digital systems.

Captains of industry are now calling for enhanced public sensitisation on digital vulnerabilities, which have increased due to the entrenched use of contactless financial services on the back of Covid-19 pandemic.

Speaking at a virtual forum convened to launch the 2021 Annual KaaChonjo! Card, Mobile and Online Safety Awareness Campaign, CA Acting Director General Mercy Wanjau said the increase in cyber threat is now a major national concern.

“I am convinced that the increased threats trend needs continued awareness on cyber hygiene across sectors if Kenya is to safeguard the gains made so far in ICT.

In addition, there is need for cross sector collaboration on cyber awareness and information sharing.”

The CA boss said over the past few months, the volume of cyber threats has risen considerably – in tandem with the increasing preference for digital transactions.

Fraud drivers

“Of note, malware and App attacks continued to rank highly among the factors that have contributed to the surge in emergent cyber security challenges. This situation underscores the need to continue promoting awareness on the fraud drivers,” she said.

“There is need for continuous vigilance and formulation of mechanisms to promote financial security, not only within the banking sector but also in other sectors that deal with financial technology.”

Kenya Bankers Association chief executive Habil Olaka said there has been a significant shift in bank customers’ preferences for digital services which, according to the Association’s Customer Satisfaction Survey of 2020, stood at 43 per cent.

“While the banking industry’s digital resilience has continued to promote continuity in the financial services sector, rising cases of fraud need to be addressed further through consumer education,” he said.

Another sector which is a low-lying fruit for cyber attacks is the multi-trillion shillings co-operative movement due to its colossal financial resources but with minimal investments in cyber security protection.

According to Kenya Union for Savings and Credit Co-operatives, the growing appetite for digital financial services has seen the sector tap billions which is attracting cyber criminals are every day.

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