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Communications Authority focuses on improving cybersecurity

The Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) has moved forward to enhance cyber security through the capacity building of young cyber security experts across the country, even as the government is digitising its services, enabling citizens to engage with the government’s service provision online.

CA Director General (DG) Mr. Ezra Chiloba, who was speaking in Eldoret during the closing ceremony of the Boot Camp and Hackathon series, a one-week training to capacity-build the young talents on matters of cyber security, pointed out that the programme was created out of the global calendar of events, which recognises October as a cyber security awareness month.

Winners of the Boot Camp and Hackathon Series training competition posed for a photo with the Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) team led by DG Ezra Chiloba in Eldoret, Uasin Gishu, Friday August 18, 2023. Photo by Ekuwam Sylvester

Chiloba said the programme was launched a couple of weeks ago so as to create opportunities for young talents when it comes to cyber security to compete and showcase some of their skills, products, and services in cyber security.

The DG said the programme is key as the world becomes more digital and demands all the actors build self-secure and resilient systems that can ensure business continuity across various sectors as the government digitises its services to citizens.

“We also need to guarantee the safety and security of those platforms so that customers can have the full experience when it comes to accessing those services. We must start with capacity building, and we think that this boot camp and hackathon series is a good way of really inducting young minds into this space,” he said.

Following an advertisement this year, the Authority received 6,000 applications from students who wanted to participate in the exercise and decided to regionalize to bring in some sense of cross-country experience. The exercise is conducted in five regions, which include Nairobi, Kisumu, Eldoret, and Mombasa.

Chiloba indicated that they intend to subject the different projects by the young cyber security experts to competition and hoped that at the end of the exercise, when they converge in Naivasha on October 16th for the final awards day, they are going to get some of the best products when it comes to cyber security generated by different players from across the country.

He noted that capacity building should be looked at from a capability perspective, meaning that individuals have critical skills required for cyber security and also have appropriate systems in place to support other digital systems.

The DG further challenged the county governments to consider themselves as active players in the digital space and to not only look at digitising from an automation perspective but also think about cyber security.

The CA boss encouraged different sectors, especially within the government, to ensure that in each and every programme that they have that relates to digital, they have a cyber security professional to advise them on what needs to be done to ensure their systems remain secure not just for the moment but also for the future.

He raised concern over the worrying statistics in terms of where Kenya is in terms of cyber security, noting that Kenya is one of the countries in Africa that is really under attack on a daily basis. He revealed that by mid-year, Kenya had experienced 440 million attacks in its cyberspace, which is a lot.

“It is something that we have to learn to live with, but our responsibility is to ensure that our space remains secure and that we mitigate the risks around those attacks. We must continuously monitor cyberspace, render necessary advisories, and invite the key players who are able to help us to be able to cushion the country against the negative impacts of cyber-attacks,” noted Chiloba.

The DG said that the authority currently runs a programme called the National Computer Incident Response Team, which is a multi-agency team that brings together all the players in the security sector to work together to monitor cyberspace, identify potential risks, and also issue advisories to the different actors who are affected for necessary action.

“With the experience of the challenges with the E-citizen platform, we saw the respective agencies coming together to ensure that within the shortest time possible, the E-citizen platform was back to normal operation,” he said.

Chiloba noted the need for all the key players in the cyber security sector to be more collaborative to coordinate better, to have a proper policy framework in place that is more progressive, and to ensure that adequate resources are being invested in that particular space so as to enhance a full experience of the digital society.

Others present at the event were Mr. Etiko Omungu, Regional Manager, CA Western Regional Office, Mr. Fredrick Wahome, Kenya Cyber Security and Forensics Association (KCSFA), Dr. Vincent Ngundi, Ag. Director Cybersecurity CA, Mr. Adam Lane from Huawei; and others.

By Luka Kiptanui

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