Cyber security concerns mount for State

November 22, 2011
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, NAIROBI, Kenya, Nov 22 – As the government makes the shift to digitally storing information, the need to build capacity in the area of cyber security is becoming more crucial.

Already, the Ministry of Information and Communications is in the process of finalizing a National Cyber security Master Plan to be rolled out in the next three months.

“In five years, practically most of the data will be online. We’re finished (Ministry of) Lands, we’re going to (the) Judiciary… most of the government records will be in digital format,” Information Permanent Secretary Bitange Ndemo said.

Ndemo, who was speaking during the National CIRT (Computer Incident Response Team) capacity building workshop, said the master plan in conjunction with USAID seeks to establish a Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) framework.

“So we should finish in the next three months before we begin implementation of the PKI which creates virtual identities; creates more trust in the Internet, more than we have right now,” he said.

The master plan will include the development of information security management controls and procedures, cyber security systems, and identity and access management systems.

The government has already undertaken initiatives to enhance its digital capacity including the launch of the Kenya Computer Incident Response Team (KE-CIRT) earlier this year and the soon to be finalised National Data Centre.

The Data Protection Bill meant to provide a framework for handling citizen personal information is also in the pipeline.

ICT Secretary of the Directorate of E-Government Katherine Getao said the government has taken several measures to safeguard government information over the internet.

“For the first time e-government has a division to take care of the issue of information security. We have also created a common gateway protection for government traffic, so firewalls have been installed at Herufi House and the government data centre,” she said.

However, what has proven to be more of a challenge than boosting cyber security for the government is curbing cable vandalism.

Noting that most security problems generate internally, Ndemo said the persistent cable cuts in the country have been identified as organized crime by unscrupulous individuals seeking to destabilize the connectivity network.

“We were going through the number of cable cuts that we had over the weekend; 15 in total affecting several GSM and landlines. There is an aspect of competition that is why we are saying there must be big boys behind the crisis,” he said.

About 25,000 kilometres of fibre optic cables have been laid down in Kenya, 5,000 of which have been done by the government at a cost of $60 million.

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