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Mobile phones to get IP addresses in new drive to fight cybercrime

The Kenyan government will assign every mobile phone a unique Internet protocol address to boost its efforts to crack down on cybercrime.

Speaking at the opening of the East Africa Cyber Security Convention 2012 at the Laico Regency in Nairobi, permanent secretary at the Ministry of Information and Communications Dr. Bitange Ndemo said the Communication Commission of Kenya (CCK) will ensure every mobile operator will give each device a unique IP address that will make it possible to identify each individual gadget.

Bitange added that mobile operators who will fail to adhere with the IP address procedure risk legal action.

“Operators are exposing themselves to litigation by ignoring the IP address procedure. We want them to comply, because this information will be linked with other government databases to improve integrity and combat cybercrime since we are able to trace the users,” he said.

The warning comes as it emerges that mobile operators have missed several implementation deadlines, with Ndemo asking the CCK to expedite the process.

The government notes that this is the only way for it to track and monitor activity on mobile devices on top of the IMEI numbers on each device, after it cracked down on fake phones earlier this year.

Ndemo also says this process is part of the governments cybercrime master plan, meant to give Internet users virtual identification cards.

“With this kind of identity, we can increase the transitions we do online and boost e-commerce,” he said

Cyber Security Africa, which has sponsored the forum together with Huawei, warned that cyber threats are at an all time high. It said that the continent recorded an exponential increase in attacks over the past decade, from 564 incidents in 2001 to 18,607 in 2011.

Most targeted were financial institutions, with over half of the 8,900 attacks this year related to fraud, while 2,300 phishing attacks targeted banks.

“In Africa, financial crimes are increasing,” said Cyber Security Africa Alliance manager Sammy Kioko.

Other breaches that are on the increase in the continent are those targeting businesses and trade secrets as a means of boosting competitiveness, according to Kioko.

He notes that phishing targeting industrial secrets is on the rise in the continent’s fraud hubs, mainly Kenya, Nigeria and Namibia.  

According to a study, cybercrime is growing fastest in Africa globally and is highest in South Africa, where the economy is believed to be losing $555 million annually, or 0.01 percent of GDP. In Kenya cybercrime is leading to a loss of about 0.05 percent of the economy.

Another study released by KPMG in late October revealed that South Africa, Nigeria, Kenya and Zimbabwe constituted over 70 percent of all fraud incidents in the continent.

To this end, Ndemo announced that the ministry is working with the Central Bank of Kenya to have an audit of all financial systems to reveal their integrity.

This increased surveillance comes as the government urges local developers to come up with local solutions to cybercrime.

Other government efforts to fight cybercrime include the creation of a national cyber security framework, a multi-sectoral body that’s working to come up with a defense strategy against cybercrime, according to CCK director-general Francis Wangusi.

The CCK has also created the National Computer Incident Response Team to handle cyber security issues.

The Ministry of Immigration has also in the past week announced that it has finalised the creation of the integrated person register system.

 
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