October is the global cybersecurity awareness month dubbed as October Cybersecurity Awareness Month (OCSAM). The Kenyan ICT regulator, the Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) has set out a plan to mark this month with cyber education.
As a country currently ongoing digital transformation, Kenya has witnessed an upsurge in the frequency of cyberattacks. This trend is to be expected as the access to ICT is enhanced by policy development and affordability.
The OCSAM is a global initiative that brings together public and private sectors to empower consumers of ICT services with knowledge, skills and resources to secure themselves online.
CA has kicked off the month by promising to have 31 days of cyber insights and engaging conversations. This will present a period for the public to learn, to be cyber-empowered and to network.
OCSAM Comes After Attacks on Kenyan Systems
6 years ago, the National Kenya Computer Incident Response Team and Coordination Centre (National KE-CIRT/CC), was operationalized and works within the CA. It is this team that is tasked with protecting the country against cyber threats and keeping the country informed.
The setting up of the team was important as cyberthreats facing the country have consistently been rising.
For example, CA states that “In the last 12 months alone, the attacks have skyrocketed to a new high of 860 million cyber-attacks. Of these attacks, 79% were as a result of cyber criminals exploiting flaws and vulnerabilities in organizations’ internal controls, system procedures and information systems, which they used to gain unauthorized access to the computer systems.”
Further, the sophistication of the attacks facing the country’s Critical Information Infrastructure (CIIs) has increased. This was made bare by the sustained DDOS attacks carried out by Anonymous Sudan.
These trends rank Kenya among the top-three most targeted countries in Africa behind Nigeria and South Africa.
The numbers presented show the importance of OCSAM to raise awareness of cybersecurity among the public. It also presents the need for capacity building.
KE-CIRT/CC has been leading efforts in capacity building through student hackathons. The program has seen over 6000 students take part. The recent hackathon was concluded in Nyeri after being hosted in other towns.
KE-CIRT/CC also is open to public reports as the country’s chief cyber guard. The coordination centre has a dedicated form where members of the public can report any cyber threats they detect. Further, one can report cyberbullies and incidences of online child abuse.
The authority has also urged other stakeholders to help enhance the cyber knowledge and skills of the general public.