The Computer Society of Kenya

Since 1986

CS Owalo calls for digital sovereignty and data governance in Africa


Wednesday 08, May 2024

ICT and Digital Economy CS Eliud Owalo on Tuesday called for digital sovereignty and data governance in Africa as he officially opened the Network of African Data Protection Authorities (NADPA-RAPDP) Annual General Meeting (AGM).

The event, which brings together data protection authorities across Africa and data protection stakeholders, is aimed at formulating strategies to promote Regional Data Governance for Digital Transformation.

The CS acknowledged the unique challenges and opportunities faced by African countries in asserting control over their digital future while navigating the influences of global competing interests and ensuring that partnerships contribute to sustainable growth and job creation.

 "I encourage you to explore the current state of digital sovereignty and data governance in Africa and discuss strategies for shaping a prosperous and self-determined digital landscape," he said at the event held Tuesday in a Nairobi Hotel.


Generative AI: How to protect firms in evolving landscape


Monday April 08, 2024

An inflexible rule of technology is that any tool that can be put to good use can also be put to nefarious use, and never has this been truer than with Artificial Intelligence (AI).

Generative (Gen)-AI, a subset of artificial intelligence, comprises of technology systems that can produce new content, such as images, text, music, audio, and even code, based on patterns and data inputs. Whereas traditional AI models rely on explicit instructions, Gen-AI employs algorithms to generate content autonomously, often mimicking human-like creativity and intuition.

The transformative impact of this technology has been immense for a large number of organisations with McKinsey predicting that the economic potential of Gen-AI could add between $2.6 trillion to $4.4 trillion in global corporate profits annually. Its ability to enhance creativity by generating new and original content enables businesses to explore innovative ideas and creative solutions.


Artificial intelligence opens new frontier in cyberdefence


Tuesday March 20 2024

Over the past few years, Artificial Intelligence (AI) has completely changed the battleground for both cybercriminals and defenders. While nefarious actors have found increasingly inventive ways to put AI to use, new research shows that AI is modifying the abilities of security teams, transforming them into ‘super defenders’ that are faster and more effective.

The latest research shows that, regardless of their expertise level, security analysts are around 44 percent more accurate and 26 percent faster when using Copilot for Security. This is good news for IT teams at firms across the continent who are up against rising insidious threats.

Deepfakes alone increased tenfold over the past year, with the Sumsub Identity Fraud Report showing that the highest number of attacks were recorded in African countries such as South Africa and Nigeria.

Such attacks can have drastic financial implications for unsuspecting businesses. Recently, an employee at a multinational firm was scammed into paying $25 million (Sh3.25 billion) to a cybercriminal who used Deepfake to pose as a coworker at a video conference call.


Bet on enterprises as AI race first movers


Transformative technologies often begin as playthings —toys and tools that a few people experiment with to discover novel uses. However, for these technologies to gain widespread adoption, they must unlock better utility and become part of the mainstream.

Artificial intelligence (AI) is firmly on its way to achieving this. From basic real-time image manipulation user experiences that led to popular mobile apps like Prisma to smart assistants like Microsoft’s Co-pilot and Google’s Gemini, embedded in productivity apps and platforms like GitHub. There are moonshot implementations like self-driving cars and bespoke medicine, but the depth of AI's utility here is arguably not yet fully democratised.

The fourth edition of the National Digital Summit, titled ‘Synergies in Digital Transformation and AI’, was a meeting point for technology leaders, C-suite executives, academia, and vendors looking to explore the pace and value of digital transformation and the role of AI in the extended tech toolkit.


The importance of API security in the age of digital transformation


Digital transformation has become a key driver for companies in the financial services sector to create and capture value. At the heart of this transformation is the increased adoption of APIs [application programming interfaces].

APIs are software intermediaries that allow two different applications to communicate with each other. Every time you use a rideshare app like Uber, send a mobile payment or check your bank balance from your phone, you’re using an API.

However, as the usage of APIs increases, so does the risk of cyberattacks. Hackers are targeting APIs due to their valuable data and functionality, lack of proper security measures, integration complexity, third-party risks, and skills gap. APIs often provide access to sensitive data and critical business functionalities. They can expose customer information, financial data, and even allow the execution of actions with significant consequences.


Kenya moves to regulate Bitcoin trade on grey listing risk


Monday February 19,2024

Kenya is working on new regulations to police trading in cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin on growing fears that the increased transactions in virtual assets in the country could increase risks of money laundering and terrorism financing.

A technical working group set up to advise the Treasury on cryptocurrency is currently preparing the draft regulations to be forwarded to the Cabinet for adoption, marking one of the key interventions in addressing weaknesses in its financial system.

“Right now, there is a sectoral working group that is working on developing a policy document to guide on developing a legal framework which will prescribe what needs to be done and who will be the regulator for digital assets providers,” said the Financial Reporting Centre (FRC) director-general, Saitoti Maika.

“Probably, we may end up with a stand-alone regulator for virtual assets. We can’t bury our heads in the sand. The more we fail to regulate, the more we risk being punished.”


Why IT experts want State to reject the new robotics bill


Wednesday February 07 2024

Information Technology experts have asked Parliament to reject the Robotics and Artificial Intelligence (AI) Society Bill, 2023 on grounds that it has a lot of glaring gaps.
The American Chamber of Commerce (AMCHAM) says the Bill will precipitate a national disaster if it is enacted in its current form.

The experts told the National Assembly’s Communication, Information, and Innovation (CII) committee that stakeholders in the AI and Robotics space were not involved at any stage before coming up with the Bill.

The experts appeared before the committee chaired by Dagoreti South MP John Kiarie during a session to mark this year’s International Safer Internet Day.

Alex Gakuru, who is the Director Center for Law in Information Technology and leader of the delegation of AMCHAM, told the session that the Bill should be withdrawn pending further consultation with stakeholders.

“This specific Bill was conveyed to Parliament through a citizen petition under public Petition NO. 75 of 2023. It was filed by Fred Ondieki Sakwe and is now before the Public Petitions Committee,” Mr Gakuru, a lecturer at the Kenya School of Law, told the committee. “This Bill will spell a national disaster and if implemented as proposed, it will take us years back.”


Top 5 cybersecurity risks to look out for in New Year


Monday January 22 2024

The information security industry is on high alert due to a variety of new and growing cybersecurity threats.

The data and assets of businesses, governments, and people are always at risk due to sophisticated cyber-attacks involving malware, phishing, identity theft and more.

Even though conversation about cybersecurity has gradually moved from the IT department to the boardroom in recent years, the bad news is that cyber-criminal activities frequently outpace business security efforts, necessitating the constant adaptation of security teams to a threat environment that is ever-changing.

In a recent survey conducted by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, which included 350 chief technology officers, chief information officers, and IT directors, 51 percent of participants cited cloud vulnerability as their top concern, whereas 43 percent cited data centre vulnerability, highlighting the need for organisations to focus on securing their cloud and data centre infrastructure, as these areas are becoming increasingly targeted by cybercriminals.


Voice, data quality tops list of unresolved consumer woes to telecoms regulator


Three quarters of consumer complaints to the Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) relating to quality of service by mobile network providers in the quarter to September 2023 remained unresolved, marking one of the slowest responses to complaints.

The communications regulator received 20 complaints about poor quality of voice and data service by mobile network operators (MNOs) during the period but solved only five.

The CA received a total of 156 complaints from consumers during the period on various breaches by telecommunications service providers such as quality of voice and data service, fraudulent calls or SMS, inaccurate billing, unfair trade practices, confidentiality or privacy breaches and service delays.


Milestones that shaped Kenya’s tech ecosystem in 2023


2023 witnessed a range of phenomenal milestones that profoundly impacted Kenya’s technology ecosystem, with some of them enhancing humans’ life quality as others threw severe interruptive blows to the long-standing status quo in the sector.

2023 is the year that saw the country’s first local smartphone assembly plant roar to life with a promise of low-rated retail prices of about Sh7,000.

The East Africa Device Assembly Kenya Limited (Eadak) factory, domiciled within the Konza Technopolis, was launched in October by President William Ruto, with the inaugural devices featuring the 4G-enabled Neon 5 Smarta and Neon 6 Ultra whose retail prices were pegged at Sh7,499 and Sh8,999 respectively.

The factory had been developed by a consortium of four venture partners that included Safaricom, Jamii Telecom, Chinese phone manufacturer Telel and the Industrial Technology Training Company Limited (ITTCL).


Kenya can use open-source solutions for ‘bottom-up AI’


As artificial intelligence (AI) becomes a cornerstone of the global economy, it is imperative that its foundations are laid in the fertile soil of community-driven data, knowledge, and wisdom.

This approach must be sustainable, transparent, and universally beneficial. Herein lies the essence of 'bottom-up AI’ — an AI that grows from the grassroots of society.

Kenya, with its innovative bottom-up economic strategy, could play a pioneering role in new AI developments. Bottom-up AI could give farmers, traders, teachers, and the local and business communities the power to use and protect AI systems that contain their knowledge and skills that have been honed over generations.

Kenya’s digital landscape is ripe for such innovation. It is home to a dynamic tech community and has been the cradle of numerous technological breakthroughs, such as the widely known M-Pesa mobile payment service and the Ushahidi crowdsourcing platforms.


More Kenyans to work remotely, says forecast


More employees in Kenya are expected to be engaged in a ‘virtual workspace’ next year, according to an employment trend forecast by Bowmans.

A virtual workspace is a cloud-based platform that allows users to access their work files and applications from anywhere, at any time. This means they can work from home, on the go, or from a coffee shop—as long as they have an Internet connection.

“We anticipate more employees being engaged in a ‘virtual workspace’ in 2024 and employers will need to consider the legal implications of such working arrangements, with reference to recent case law,” Terry Mwango, head of dispute resolution at Bowmans and Quinter Okuta, an associate at the law firm said in a brief.

Virtual workspaces are preferred by a growing number of employers who are keen on saving costs because they are often cheaper to set up and maintain than traditional office spaces. There is no need to purchase or lease physical office space, furniture, or equipment.


Kenya’s fintechs confront cyber-threats as incidents hit 860 million a year


Kenya's financial-technology sector has grown over the years but so have cyber criminals, who have devised new tactics that pose a threat to this evolution.

Cyber-attacks are increasingly becoming a constant threat to businesses across the globe particularly in Kenya. The country was ranked 35th most cyber-attacked country globally by Kaspersky in June, with attackers targeting the financial sector and digital infrastructures.

Fintech companies are facing an increasing number of sophisticated attacks, ranging from phishing attempts and data breaches to ransomware campaigns.

The Communications Authority said Kenya has witnessed an alarming surge in cyberattacks, with a staggering 860 million incidents recorded in the past year and 123.9 million cyber threats during the three months to last September.

The regulator expressed concerns over the escalating frequency, sophistication and scale of these cyber threats, particularly targeting Kenya's critical information infrastructure.


Harnessing power of AI to transform financial markets

Monday October 30 2023

In the dynamic world of finance, where fortunes can be made or lost with a single click, innovation is not a choice — it’s a necessity for survival. The financial industry has always been a breeding ground for technological advancements.

However, some companies have learned the hard way that ignoring innovation can lead to obsolescence. The list of such companies is long, from Motorola to Nokia, Kodak to Compaq, and Yahoo to BlackBerry.

These companies hesitated while the rest of the world embraced the digital age, clinging to tried-and-tested methods. They viewed technological advancements sceptically, believing their legacy and size would safeguard their position. Little did they realise that the tides of change were relentless.


Why Robotic Process Automation is your firm's best bet for seamless transition


Organisations have had to rapidly adopt different systems and applications across business silos and groups to keep up with the pace of technology transformation.

This has led to a complex intertwining of legacy systems and architectures that need to be connected to newly adopted digital solutions to create a cohesive and interconnected ecosystem.

This is where robotic process automation (RPA) comes in. It allows organisations to deftly interweave legacy technology with modernised applications and services to overcome system integration challenges and drive forward digital transformation momentum.

Legacy systems are expensive to maintain and slow to deliver value. Research has found that 31 percent of the average organisation is comprised of legacy systems with 60-80 percent of IT budgets allocated to keeping them maintained.

McKinsey points out that only five to 10 cents of every dollar of tech spend goes into business value thanks to technical debt and legacy infrastructure.


Why hackers in Kenya attack are being linked to Russia


The wave of cyber-attacks that befell Kenya slightly more than a month ago and threatened to ground the economy has made organisations reconsider their security architecture and structures.

Rapid digital evolution has seen a rise in the frequency and sophistication of cyberattacks globally, with emerging technology concepts such as artificial intelligence (AI), nanotechnology and blockchain poised to further accelerate the complexity and severity of cyber warfare.

But it is not just that. It is the struggle to unmask the threat actors behind the country’s recent protracted attacks that has fuelled the cyber safety debate.

At the time of the crisis, the attackers were only identified as ‘Anonymous Sudan’.

Who are ‘Anonymous Sudan’?

Pan-African cybersecurity consulting firm Serianu Limited says that ‘Anonymous Sudan’ is a code name for a threat actor that has been conducting denial of service (DDoS) attacks against multiple organisations, the most recent being in Kenya.


CA pushes for new tools to regulate innovations


The communications regulator is pushing for the adoption of alternative regulatory tools to oversight new and emerging innovations such as digital currencies in Kenya.

Appearing before a special committee of the national assembly, the Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) director-general Mr Ezra Chiloba said the lack of a fully operational digital currency framework poses a risk of money laundering and consumer protection.

“There is a need to develop an appropriate overarching legal framework for regulation on new and emerging technologies, including digital platforms, social media and Over-the-Top services,” Mr Chiloba said.

The parliamentary special committee was set up to inquire into the legal and regulatory compliance of Worldcoin and its local partners.

The Worldcoin saga has highlighted regulatory flaws, including the absence of a fully operationalised framework for digital currencies.


Weaponised AI, ransomware-as-a-service, long-game identity theft and other 2023 trends


Over the last decade, a steady stream of innovation has made digital payments easier and more convenient for everyone.

But emerging technologies like generative AI and a pandemic-accelerated digital explosion have also given rise to new forms of fraud — fraud that all together cost online businesses $41 billion globally in 2022 and is expected to jump 17 percent in 2023.

Here are five trends impacting payment security this year — and where security innovation is needed most.

1. The proliferation of fraud tools makes anyone a potential hacker.

As more and more people shop and pay for things online, the number of fraud targets grows. At the same time, inflation, cost of living, and economic uncertainty are giving more people an incentive to turn to fraudulent activity.


Lawsuit filed to stop government’s single paybill directive


The High Court has certified as urgent a petition seeking to stop the government from migrating all digital payment systems to one platform after two petitioners challenged the directive arguing that it is unconstitutional.

Justice Hedwig Ong’udi certified the case as urgent and directed Fredrick Ogola and lawyer Benard Odero Okello to serve the court papers to CS Treasury Njuguna Ndung’u, his ICT counterpart Eliud Owalo and Attorney General Justin Muturi.

The duo argue that the State acted unilaterally and arbitrarily by directing the closure of all government digital payment systems, to allow on-boarding all government services, at the national and county levels, into one digital payment platform The directive takes effect on September 30.

The two have challenged the directive, saying there was no public participation before the formulation of the single digital payment platform.


Why businesses, State agencies need to beef up war chest against hackers


Kenya was recently viciously shaken by a series of cyberattack incidents that nearly threatened to ground the economy to a halt, triggering engagements between sector experts and executives on the need to review existing defence mechanisms.

The attack on Kenya, allegedly by a group of hackers only identified as ‘Anonymous Sudan’, hit the core of the financial systems with M-Pesa, a mobile service fast turning into an artery for the circulation of money in Kenya’s economy, being affected.

The other major disruption happened on the government services portal, e-Citizen.

Since the attacks happened, subsequent debates among industry experts and business managers have revolved around looking at the loose ends that need to be tightened.


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