Cybercrime will cost the world Sh600 trillion by next year if appropriate measures are not taken to curb the growing vulnerabilities in information systems, experts warn.
During this year’s annual CyberTech Global Conference in Tel Aviv, Israel, which I recently attended, the overarching message was a call for global cooperation in monitoring cyber threats.
The attack surface is becoming more complex in the Fourth Industrial Revolution, where the Internet of Things is making the job easier for hackers.
Cyber attackers are now using advanced technologies such as Machine Learning (ML) to get unauthorised access to financial and data management systems in banks, government agencies and telcos.
Kenya, for instance, lost Sh29 billion from these attacks in 2018, according to consulting agency Serianu, while several government agency websites were hacked last year.
On Tuesday this week, a phishing snare that promised to give away 500 Carrefour vouchers was sent out to WhatsApp groups in Kenya, helping criminals hack into user accounts.
Due to low awareness levels, most Kenyan individuals and companies believe that they are secure just because they have not lost any money. Yet hackers can keep your password waiting for an opportune moment to strike.
This requires that mobile phone accounts be on constant surveillance to detect and thwart attacks before they happen.
We are living in an era where the IoT will soon change how we live, as smart living solutions come to our private spaces, connecting every electronic device to our phones and cars. That will require online security more than ever.
Even the electricity generation and supply systems must take cyber security seriously, using artificial intelligence to secure them in real time.
During the Tel Aviv conference, Yiftah Ron-Tal, chairperson of the Israel Electric Corporation board, said 11,000 attacks are launched against power systems every second.
This is a wake-up call to power companies KenGen, Kenya Power and Ketraco to source robust security systems because the future of power consumption will be in the Internet of Electricity.
A successful breach of power transmission could cause loss of lives. Gone is the era when you had to wait for 10 minutes to respond to a cyber attack.
Response must be swift, which calls for the use of deep learning (DL) and not passwords, which have become much easier to hack.
Using DL will detonate any invisible attack that comes through cloned face recognition and fingerprints.
While Kenyans need more awareness about cyber security, no government agency or company can succeed alone in the cyber war.
All players must collaborate to minimise the dangerous actions of the Dark Web masters.
Mr Ngila is a 4IR journalist at NMG; @faustination