Tuesday, January 24, 2012


Information and communication technology has transformed our lives as had been prophesized. The computer, the mobile phone, the internet and databases have had a considerable impact on the Kenyan society.

Many business opportunities have been created by the introduction of technology for example M-Pesa. M-banking, electronic payment systems and E-learning are technological processes that will radically impact our society in the short-term.

In the midst of all these positives it is important to remember the dark side of technology. Cyber-crime has increasingly become a serious concern. Online criminals/fraudsters, disgruntled employees, saboteurs, spies and foreign hackers are wracking havoc on personal lives, businesses and governments.

One would then ask – how can we secure ourselves? Before answering this question it is important to answer another question – who or what are we protecting ourselves and our ICT systems against? In other words we must understand the fundamental risks we want to protect ourselves against before we secure ourselves.

There are four damaging risks that warrant protection against. The first one is data theft. Most company losses and lack of competitive advantage are due to employee data theft. A sales person is more likely to steal a customer database so as to take a new job or simply sell it for money to the competition.

The second risk is internet crime. The likelihood of a technology user falling victim to this kind of crime has never been greater. Internet scams, fraud and identity theft are all over the internet. Unarguably the most famous is the Nigerian 411 scam which has caused suffering to many people all over the world.

The third most damaging risk is industrial espionage. This crime targets the big multinationals and the small businesses. Losses incurred by Kenyan companies when their strategies, patents, finances and marketing plans are stolen run into millions of shillings.

The fourth risk we face is malware infection. Cyber criminals target computers without protection so as to infect them with malware. Home users are especially vulnerable to this kind of crime. Malware is malicious software that is designed to gain unauthorized access to a computer’s (or device like a mobile phone) system resources so as to commit data theft or invade someone’s privacy.

All these risks if not mitigated by way of ICT security can cause severe financial loss for businesses and individuals. These are the reasons as to why we have to secure our personal and business ICT systems.

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