Although access to mobile phones and the internet is not entirely at 100% for Kenyans, a significant percentage of people possess these handhelds for communication and entertainment purposes or have access to the internet through other means. For the tech-savvy, cybercrime is relatively common thanks to the keen attention it has received from businesses, organizations and the government.
According to the the Computer and Cybercrimes Bill, 2016, Section 4, a person commits a cyber-offence if he or she ‘causes, whether temporarily or permanently, a computer system to perform a function, by infringing security measures, with intent to gain access, and knowing such access is unauthorized, commits an offense…’. The document goes on to define unauthorized and authorized access, and the entire segment explains all acts that are offensive as well as their consequences.
For the purposes of this piece, it is crucial that reference is made to Section 13 of the Bill, which sheds light on unlawful gains or use of fraudulent methodologies to elevate one’s economic status. What is more, clarifications are made about specific actions that are considered fraudulent such the interference, modifications or suppression of computer systems for dishonest reasons.
It is apparent the bill meets the definitive comprehensiveness needed for people to understand what is right or wrong about the use of computer systems and the internet in addition to the legal ramifications of violating the proposed concerns.
The brief discussion of the Cybercrimes Bill is motivated by the arrests made for Alex Mutungi Mutuku in the past on cybercrime allegations. The police suspect that Alex, together with eight other suspects have been a headache to governance agencies including Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA), business Saccos to mention but a few. As skilled IT people, the crew is accused of hacking into the systems of the aforementioned agencies and stealing sensitive data.
It should be remembered that Alex has been arraigned in court before by telecommunication and mobile service provider, Safaricom on airtime theft allegations and NIC Bank where he was accused of having hacked the bank’s database and made away with customer data, which he used to blackmail the bank management for 200 Bitcoins valued at KES 6.2 million.
Briefly, Bitcoins have become very popular in the tech community and money laundering schemes because of their intricate nature and limited usage. In essence, Bitcoins are similar to ordinary money, meaning they are proof of value. For example, if you have KES 10,000, you are worth that much. However, what is the purpose of burdening oneself with cash to prove a person is worth KES 10,000?
Why not have the money somewhere on the internet where it is safe and easily accessible, at any time? In other words, Bitcoins are digital money without the hassle of carrying notes and coins; it is code on the internet that proves a person is worth what he/she says is. Bitcoins are transferable for to make purchases, bearing in mind that there are individuals who are transforming their ordinary money into Bitcoins by buying Bitcoins. You may never need cash again once you have them because they do what cash does.
A few decades ago, rules against cybercrime were not stringent, probably due to the low cases of attacks on computer systems. Over the years, businesses, agencies and governments rely on computer systems to carry out their duties. For example, and in a local setting, you cannot run short organizations that augment the running of their businesses with internet services such as websites for ease of access to information, social media usage for PR purposes, mobile banking applications for access to financial information at any time, and so forth. On the bright side, these inventions are extensively beneficial, but they are also vulnerable to malicious activities by hackers and intruders.
It will be interesting to see how the named arrests will progress over the next weeks. We have not seen a hyped local cybercrime case that has been met with tougher punishment, so the judiciary may want to stamp their authority and to send a strong message by stringently punishing culprits.