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Beware! Cyber-criminals waiting to pounce on you online

If you use a mobile phone with internet connection, especially to carry out transactions, you are a potential victim of cyber-crime, according to a new report.

Chances are that there are cyber-criminals lurking in the shadows of the Internet waiting for you to reveal your passwords.

Once they get their hands on your password, they will use the information to skim your hard-earned cash from your account.

Experts estimate that cyber-crime cost Kenya about Sh17 billion in 2016.

“People should not look at the Sh17 billion as money lost by banks through cyber-crimes,” says Mr William Makatiani, the Managing Director of Serianu Limited, an IT services and business consulting firm.

ANTIVIRUS SOFTWARE

“That is the cost of cyber-crime. That is money that could have been used to do something else.”

The Africa Cyber Security Report (2016) published this month by Serianu said the Sh17 billion includes the costs of anticipating cyber-crime — such as antivirus software — the consequences of cybercrime — such as direct losses and indirect costs in response initiatives and reputation damage to victim firms.

Indeed, cyber-crime is closer to the average Kenyan than many care to admit.

“Cybercrime is a big problem in the country but the challenge is that people do not know,” says Mr Makatiani.

PRECAUTIONARY MEASURES

According to him, many fail to take precautionary measures until cyber-criminals raid their bank accounts or other forms of data banks, including sensitive business information.

In an age where banking, procurement, government services, hospitality and many other industries have been automated, cyber-criminals are now not just targeting individuals but institutions as well.

“Cyber-crime is no longer the exclusive domain of computer prodigies. Crimeware-as-a-service, a term used to describe the many ready-made services available to execute a variety of cyber-attacks, has made perpetrating cyber-crime easier and cheaper than ever,” says Raymond Isiaho, a Senior Manager at Deloitte Cyber Risk Services for East Africa. “Any organisation with information worth stealing is a target.”

A society that is increasingly using mobile phone-based services, some of which are exposed to vulnerable ICT infrastructure are just the few pointers that make Kenya susceptible to cyber-crime.