Questions and possible lessons we can learn from Kenya’s recent cyber-attack.

By Caroline Boyani

There has been a heated debate on the social circles after a group claimed to hack Kenyan Citizen portal and other government websites last week. Indeed, several government sites and private sector platforms were compromised for some time last week. The government acknowledged intrusion in these platforms and assured the public that all had been put under control. Even though the assurance is received and appreciated, questions regarding cyber security need to be asked. Are we safe from cyber-attacks? What went wrong?

Is this a random cyber war, a distraction from a bigger war or the beginning of an endless war? And how invested in the government in cyber intelligence security and protecting its people from disinformation and misinformation? Cabinet Secretary for Interior and National Cordination of Government, Prof. Kithure stated that ” No data was accessed or lost during the incident owing to the comprehensive data protection measures put in place by the responsible agencies.”

This is after Anonymous Sudan, a notorious hacking group claiming to be Sudanese claimed on Twitter to have accessed data from eCitizen government websites with objectives of selling it in future. If the responsible agencies were doing their job rightly, how was it possible that we got hacked in the first place? Should this be a warning for the public to be cautious considering that we are badly exposed?

A government ought to be reliable and accountable to its citizens in all sectors. There is need to put more efforts in delivering what it says and providing a conducive environment for its people to flourish. When the cyber war was launched a lot of businesses were affected, especially those relying on mobile banking and telecommunication services. Brian, who runs a family restaurant expressed his disappointment when mobile banking stopped working after the hacking. ” Some customers have had to go away since they prefer cashless payments, and we couldn’t order some supplies since the supplier refused to release them without receiving payment” he lamented.

Cyber space provides support to various websites that help in efficient delivery of service. Kenya has made strides in digitizing a lot of their services to reduce the long queues on government offices but incompetence in beefing up their cyber security will render these efforts useless. We must be always prepared for spyware and malicious activity from all quarters. We must recognize this new frontier of “war” and secure ourselves favourably for any eventualities.

If for nothing else, may we learn to be more vigilant in the cyber security space.

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