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African nation calls on private sector to invest in cybersecurity

An African nation has appealed on the country's private sector to invest in cybersecurity to complement the government's ongoing efforts to combat the rise of cybersecurity. Kenya's ICT Ministry Cabinet Secretary, Joe Mucheru has called for increased investment in cybersecurity following after another spike in incidences of cyber-crime which is harming the country's digital economy.

The ICT Cabinet Secretary has highlighted investment opportunities for players in the internet security space to ensure security infrastructure matches current threat trends. He also disclosed a new cybercrimes bill which will be tabled at parliament. Mucheru said, "We have the Computer and Cybercrimes Bill 2016 which is headed to parliament. We want to introduce stiffer penalties for cybercrime and online corporate espionage.

Kenya has been named alongside some other African nations as the countries with the highest vulnerability to cyber-attacks due to a combination of huge internet penetration and use in all spheres of society. It does not currently have the existing infrastructure to combat such high volume attacks and security breaches. However, it has strengthened its capacity to mitigate cyber-attacks from local and foreign adversaries.

A recent report compiled by GSMA Mobile and Jumia Business Intelligence revealed that Kenya is leading Africa in relation to internet penetration with over 30 million residents having access to the internet in the region. That positive trajectory has fallen foul of a series of cyber-attacks, with financial institutions and mobile money transaction platforms in particular being targeted.

It has been estimated following a report conducted by a Kenyan company that focused on the topic of cybersecurity that just 44% of financial institutions run on a paltry cybersecurity budget of below $1,000 U.S. dollars annually, whilst about 33% of financial institutions in Kenya have no expenditure on all cybersecurity matters.

The Ministry Cabinet Secretary added that more and more jobs were moving online with the freelancing economy in the United States clocking 1 trillion dollars and about 34 percent of Americans working online. He said, "The very essence of introducing Ajira Digital in partnership with Rockefeller Foundation and the Kenya Private Sector Alliance was to tap online job opportunities for the youth. We will not relent on this initiative because of challenges posed by cybercrime."

The CS urged local businesses to focus on opportunities in addressing potential challenges around Internet of Things (IOT) and mobile communications that are fast becoming new targets of attack by cybercriminals. "In the next one year we expect that over 40 million new devices, mainly smart phones will be imported into the country, all these are potential new targets especially if users are not aware of the cyber risks," he said.