AfricaHackOn Conference: The state and future of cyber security in Kenya


By Chrispus Kamau

Cybersecurity3

Kenya has been rapidly developing technologically for some time now. Statistics such as a 79% mobile penetration in the country is prove of this. We have several start-ups and developers building technical solutions in various areas of the economy.

Web and mobile applications are been introduced into the market at a very high rate. We also have major organizations incorporating technology in their core businesses, from online banking to patient records in hospitals. The government is not being left behind with digitization of most of its platforms, from immigration systems to tax systems. With this rush to have everything digitized, security is seen as a deterrent to fast deployment. This often leads to patch up jobs to fix security holes after they are exploited by malicious attackers.

This is the current state the country finds itself, cyber security as an after thought once systems have been breached. The other aspect is the technical capacity. Most of the people tasked with leading or
implementing cyber security programs are often under qualified. Their skills are based on certifications which aren’t complemented by practical skill. What we end up with is cyber security programs being run under generic plans which aren’t customized to the country’s specific needs. Technology solutions such as antiviruses and firewalls become a fix all for everything. Penetration tests which are meant to simulate an actual attack on systems are almost always done when forced upon them by a regulatory authority. The worrying thing is that the people tasked with guarded these systems often doctor the results so as not to have their negligence or incompetence exposed. Some are more worried about their job security than having thorough tests done on their systems. Anyone who attempts to reveal any vulnerability in the systems they manage is therefore considered hostile. They will then shield top level management from any information that would put them in negative light. Only when a breach occurs does the top level management learn of the true state of affairs.

Another key aspect of cyber security that is wanting is the area of awareness. The human aspect of cyber security is often the weakest link in any cyber security plan. Awareness therefore needs to be done in conjunction with any technical measures that are put in place. The current state is that proper awareness programmes are exception rather than the norm.

The future does look promising. The country as a whole is starting to understand the area of cyber security and its vitalness. It’s no longer possible to just neglect it as numerous cases related to cyber security are getting public attention. We also have cybercrime divisions in our law enforcement units. Though still at an infancy stage, with the right people and skills, their capacity will grow to handle the various incidents in the country.

AfricaHackon is looking to the future through various initiatives. Consisting of a team of some of the brightest information security practitioners in the region, AfricaHackon is helping to build much needed capacity. This is through free bootcamps in learning institutions. These students are the future of cyber security in the country and their interest is being sparked at an early age. They are introduced to various aspects of cyber security by experts in the various fields. The students are then guided and mentored on
their journey into information security careers.

Conferences are another way that AfricaHackon is helping the field grow. These conferences showcase real life scenarios of cyber security threats, how they can be exploited and how to defend against them. Various stakeholders in the industry are engaged in an interactive and open manner. People who are trying to get into the field get to experience first hand what actually happens in the industry.

On 31st July, AfricaHackOn will be holding a Conference on Cyber Security it will delve deep into the world of cyber security through practical demonstrations on where we are today and what the future holds.

Tickets are available at Ticket Sasa.  Advance tickets are going for Ksh. 1,500.

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