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Kenyan sites at risk

By Semaj Itosno, Nairobi, Kenya

Use of free software without customization is exposing Kenyan websites to hackers.

A new report by Serianu, an IT security consulting firm, has revealed that more than 80% of local websites are built on open source software such as Wordpress, Joomla, Apache and MySQL whose security codes are available online for free.

According to William Makatiani, the managing director at Serianu Ltd, Government websites and banking institutions remain the most vulnerable targets since most of their website are developed externally but they rarely do a check on their security settings or update them.

“During our research, we came across a credit card shop that was selling credit card data issued by banks located in Kenya,” said Makatiani.

The study was done between the months of January and April this year and lists bank accounts, credit and debit card details as the most looked for data by cyber criminals.

Online fraud has been growing steadily in Kenya and commercial banks are estimated to lose Sh3 billion to cyber criminals annually.

Makatiani said unlike other proprietary software whose codes are only available to the vendor and the client, open source software source code is available to the general public for use and/or modification from its original design free of charge.

This provides an opportunity for cyber criminals to send software that has the ability to access computers and steal vital information such as business strategies or business plans, or confidential information from banks, insurance and telecommunication firms. 

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