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Cybercrime gobbles up Sh21b from Kenyans

Government most affected through Integrated Financial Management Information System (IFMIS), automation of revenue venues

Bernard Gitau @benagitau

The national government and banks bled the most as the country lost a whopping Sh21 billion to cyber-crime last year. According to the Serianu Africa Cyber Security Report 2017 cyber-related theft increased by Sh12.5 billion from Sh8.5 billion reported the previous year as the crime continues to gain traction in the country.

Internet losses to faceless criminals paint a gloomy picture as the nation moves to leverage on information technology for growth.

The cash lost to the criminals in 2017 can help put up 76 ultramodern eye and dental units equivalent to the one recently opened by President Uhuru Kenyatta at Tenwek Mission Hospital in Bomet last week.

The Sh275 million donor-funded facility can serve up to 20,000 patients and conduct 5,000 surgeries annually. In total, the amount lost by the government alone can help construct 18 such facilities annually having lost Sh5 billion, while banks lost Sh7 billion.

Telecommunications lost Sh3 billion while mobile-based transactions, e-payment lost Sh2.5 billion. Through e-commerce transactions the criminals walked away with Sh1.5 billion.

Serianu chief executive William Makatiani points out that the government was targeted by hackers through Integrated Financial Management Information System (IFMIS) and automation of revenue.

“Government systems have become a target for hackers seeking to make news or disrupt service delivery,” said Makatiani. The highest cost and threats for financial institutions in relation to cyber-crimes came from insider threats, investments in anticyber crime technologies, banking malware and ATM skimming.

Direct threats on e-commerce and mobile-based transactions came from online fraud, credit card fraud, SIM card swiping and social engineering where victims were duped to send money.

SMEs in financial services, micro-finance institutions and Saccos are also among the most vulnerable to cyber attacks. The report pointed out that SMEs spend a maximum of Sh150,000 annually on cyber security technologies and services.

Fake news, ransomware, cyber bullying, pyramid schemes and phishing top cyber security concerns. The report indicated that in Africa more than Sh18 billion was withdrawn from victim accounts with banks compensating nearly the same amount while nearly 90 per cent of the crimes that hit banks went unreported.

Collectively Africa lost Sh350 billion to cyber security. Defence Cabinet Secretary Rachel Omamo called for concerted effort from government, private sectors and experts to address the elephant in the room.

“We need to deal with cyber threats. Technology can be a course for different threats and we need to defend ourselves,” said Omamo. The report was a result of feedback from 700 IT experts in 10 African countries and across 12 sectors.

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