Kenya works on cyber security Masterplan

(KEN MACHARIA) The Government has launched a master plan to streamline payments in a bid to counter cyber attacks and other fraud-related activities executed over virtual networks.

Information and Communication PS, Bitange Ndemo, revealed the plans during the opening of the annual East Africa ATMs, Cards and Mobile Banking Security Summit on Tuesday.

“A few years ago we spent most of the time talking about connectivity, but we have overcome this with the superhighway. Now we face a much bigger problem of security,” said Ndemo.

He added that the earlier the country deals with security threats the better for business and economic prosperity.

The Master plan on mobile payments, e-payments and ATMS is set to be launched in April 2012, and will incorporate e-government initiative.

“E-commerce is growing,” Ndemo said. “We want to be a step ahead of the industry.”

The master plan comes at a time when high speed connectivity brought by undersea cables has exposed businesses and individuals to the growing threat of cyber crime.

PricewaterCoopers (PwC) Global Economic crime survey reported some regions including Kenya, South Africa and UK reported an increase of 40 percent in fraud cases in 2011.

The two day summit has been organised by Cyber Sec Africa, an ICT solutions provider, to give insights in banking payments fraud and how to address them. Sammy Kioko, the African alliance manager for Cyber Sec Africa, said financial flows are growing rapidly and in an increasingly unguarded form. Quoting a May report by Deloitte, Kioko said banking fraud had tripled in 2010 to a massive Sh3 billion compared to 2009.

“The amount banks lost to fraud amount to an average of Sh246 million a month with about Sh1.2 billion lost during the year.

“Anyone using mobile applications to purchase services needs to understand that mobile threats are becoming more sophisticated and they need to secure their mobile phones and devices,” said Kioko.

Ndemo said the government-initiated public key infrastructure (PKI), whose study is almost complete, will give a legal framework for virtual transitions. “There’s no single ID to create virtual ID,” he said. “The success of M-Pesa has been purely because of civil registration. Safaricom can confirm with the national registry any details of applicant.”

He said 60 percent of cyber crime was internal, and urged organisations to foster discipline and value system to counter the problem. “If we avoid the 60 per cent then we will be very safe,” he added.

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