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HomeAnonymousGather ammunition against cyberattacks | Nation

Gather ammunition against cyberattacks | Nation

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Last week proved a trying time for the Kenyan government as hackers unleashed their attack tools on their digital assets. The consequences were severe, with critical services going offline.

As a result, millions of Kenyans who depend on these services were inconvenienced and frustrated.

The government usually avoids admitting when its services have been targeted, but the outcry from the affected citizens was too loud to ignore.

Eventually, they came forward to acknowledge that the eCitizen portal, which facilitates access to over 5,000 government services and enables online payments, had fallen victim to a cyberattack.

Some services affected included passport applications and renewals, e-visas for non-citizens visiting Kenya, driving licenses, and national identity cards.

Amidst the chaos, the hackers claimed to have stolen passport data, but the Information, Communication, and Digital Economy Minister, Eliud Owalo, refuted these claims, stating that no data had been accessed or lost.

However, this incident is just a glimpse of the larger issue at hand. Kenya, one of Africa's most digitally connected countries, is grappling with an unprecedented wave of daily cyberattacks.

Reports from various organizations tracking cybersecurity incidences worldwide show an alarming increase in cyberattacks, particularly in African nations where cybersecurity has been largely neglected or merely discussed without concrete action.

The latest attack was allegedly carried out by an anonymous Sudanese pro-Russian hacktivist group, citing Kenya's statements doubting Sudanese government sovereignty as their motive.

Moreover, there have been widespread reports of Chinese hackers testing the government's digital infrastructure to gather information about debts owed to Beijing.

To counter these threats, the Kenyan government needs to engage in cyber diplomacy to address potential cybersecurity concerns and disputes with the countries involved through diplomatic channels.

Internally, they should collaborate with the private sector to develop comprehensive and up-to-date cybersecurity policies and strategies encompassing all government operations and critical infrastructure protection. These policies should cover guidelines on data protection, incident response, risk management, and best practices.

An urgent priority should be educating government employees and personnel about cybersecurity best practices and the risks associated with cyber threats.

Additionally, the government must strengthen its network security by deploying firewalls, intrusion detection systems, intrusion prevention systems, and other advanced security technologies. Regular updates and patching of software and systems are crucial in addressing known vulnerabilities.

Given that attackers often target data, the government should enforce a policy of using strong encryption for sensitive data during transmission and at rest. Encryption is vital in protecting data from unauthorized access, even if intercepted.

It is essential to acknowledge that cybersecurity is an ongoing process that demands continuous improvement and adaptation to address emerging threats.

Consequently, periodic security assessments and audits of government systems and infrastructure are crucial in identifying vulnerabilities and areas for improvement.

- Mr. Wambugu is an accredited expert in cloud and cyber security. Email: [email protected] Twitter: @Samwambugu2


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