Over the past three years, the ICT market in Kenya has seen the likes of the Internet of Things (IoT), virtualisation, and cloud storage becoming more mainstream. However, this has also resulted in the evolution of the cybersecurity threat landscape. Bethwel Opil, Enterprise Sales Manager at Kaspersky Lab Africa, looks into this in more depth.
With an Internet penetration rate of 85% (with 95% of those users coming from mobile devices), Kenya is one of the most connected countries in Africa. This has seen organisations embrace mobile as a means of collecting targeted data and customising products to suit the needs of customers more effectively. However, with this customisation, comes a risk as increasingly sophisticated malware is emerging – targeting data of users and organisations especially in the financial services sector.
Of course, this has done little to curb public appetite for more mobile solutions. So, while public and private sector entities are fighting to safeguard personal, business, and other sensitive data, they still need to meet customer demand to remain competitive.
In this environment, Kenyan businesses are looking at aspects like mobility and IoT especially how they can leverage it to make it more efficient for employees to work remotely. This brings with it a growing realisation that corporate networks must be protected differently than they have been in the past. Unfortunately, however, one of the biggest challenges that still exist in the country is the disconnect between what management wants and the practical realities of IT security on the ground. The need to invest significantly in more practical cyber security solutions must become more of a priority.
Already, there are Kenyan organisations who have become open to this. They want to reduce costs through innovative solutions, become more agile in meeting customer needs, and reduce the overheads in their organisations, but sadly, this has seen IT security fall on the backburner.
In this environment, there is a critical need to educate companies on the need to embark in cybersecurity awareness campaigns to better understand its importance in this connected world. Beyond that, there needs to be public education campaigns so people can become more aware of the risks around data sharing and potential weak links in the IT security chain. Things like not securing a mobile device with cybersecurity software, a lack of password-protection, and the like become more critical in this digital landscape.
The Kenyan government is working with the ICT Authority and the Communications Authority to tackle some of these challenges. They are starting to prioritise information security and there is expected to be noticeable improvements over the next two to three years.
Change does not happen overnight. It will take a concerted effort from all stakeholders in the country to inform and educate people on the need for cyber security and to be more mindful of who and how they share their data with. By working together, Kenyans will become digitally safer and better able to adapt to changing threats as more innovative technologies are used.