Trump’s new travel rules. To check-in, or not to check-in the laptop?

Written by Mwendwa Kivuva 

Humans have been traveling across the globe even before borders were drawn for reasons ranging from business, exploration, social, medical, education, and migration. After 9/11, traveling became more complex with tight Visa rules, military grade screening of passengers, and increased surveillance. The latest casualties of these tight measures are ICT savvy travelers.

In March 2017, The US and Britain introduced new regulations for flights[1] from Middle East, and Africa. The regulations ban passengers from carrying large electronic devices citing security concerns. The countries affected[2] were Jordan, Egypt, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, Morocco and the United Arab Emirates. The circular from the US homeland security read:

These enhancements apply to 10 specific airports. The affected overseas airports are: Queen Alia International Airport (AMM), Cairo International Airport (CAI), Ataturk International Airport (IST), King Abdul-Aziz International Airport (JED), King Khalid International Airport (RUH), Kuwait International Airport (KWI), Mohammed V Airport (CMN), Hamad International Airport (DOH), Dubai International Airport (DXB), and Abu Dhabi International Airport (AUH).

With the new regulations, any device bigger than a hand help phone should be put in the checked-in luggage, and not carried onboard by the passenger. The listed devices are laptops, tablets, e-Readers cameras, Portable DVD players, and electronic game units larger than a smartphone, travel printers, and scanners.

In the age of Snowden and Wikileaks, these regulations pose a cyber security risk. It gives a window of opportunity for anybody targeting data in the devices to get access to the checked-in devices, usually a laptop. The checked-in laptops of persons of interests will either be cloned, or disappear altogether. A federal agent will mark the luggage of the person of interest, and along the several luggage transfer chain, locate it and remove the laptop and clone the hard disk getting away with a wealth of data. This process can be done by either physically removing the hard disk, using a live CD like Tails[3] to copy the contents of the laptop, or just crack the user account and gaining access to the laptop. This may sound far fetched, but federal agents have been known to go to great lengths to access information they deem necessary in their work.

Airlines have started being creative to help their clients experience the same convenience they are used to. For example, Emirates Airlines has introduced two services to it’s clients[4], a laptop handling service that lets clients use their devices until before boarding, and complimentary laptops for business and first class customers, where the customers are given Microsoft Surface 3 tablets to work onboard. Although this does not remove the security concerns mentioned above, it gives those who can afford a window to be productive while flying.

How do you secure your data while traveling?
The Electronic Frontier Foundation[5], an international non-profit digital rights group based in San Francisco, California, gives some suggestions on traveling with data, especially after the U.S. government reported an increase in the number of electronic media searches at the US border.

  • Store all sensitive data on a secure cloud offering like Dropbox or SpiderOak, or better still on a private hosted server.
  • Use a Chromebook as your travel laptop, which by default store all data on the cloud
  • If you must travel with your data, have two hard drives which you swap on convenience. One with a clean operating system install without any data, and another with the operating system and data, but only swapped when the laptop is in use.
  • Always use full strong disk encryption for all your data.

The next debate on information confidentiality is usually centered around the question, “Why should I care if I have nothing to hide?” The next article will try to answer that question. Do you have anything to hide?

Sources:

[1] Mideast Airlines Face Laptop Bans on Flights to U.S., Britain https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-03-21/mideast-airlines-say-new-u-s-restrictions-will-force-changes

[2] Fact Sheet: Aviation Security Enhancements for Select Last Point of Departure Airports with Commercial Flights to the United States

https://www.dhs.gov/news/2017/03/21/fact-sheet-aviation-security-enhancements-select-last-point-departure-airports

[3] Privacy for anyone anywhere https://tails.boum.org/

[4] Emirates introduces tablet loan service to US-bound First and Business Class customers https://www.emirates.com/media-centre/emirates-introduces-tablet-loan-service-to-us-bound-first-and-business-class-customers

[5] Strong Full-Disk Storage Encryption https://www.eff.org/wp/digital-privacy-us-border-2017#full-disk

Maintaining Public Order During Internet Shutdown

Image Credit.

Written by Victoria, from the Bloggers Association of Kenya.

Imagine waking up one day and turning on your computer but you cannot get access to the internet; no browsing, no news, no videos, no internet games, no online chat forums, no social media access. Everything online has been locked out in an instant.

Our world relies heavily on the internet. From communicating with each other to having easy access to a wide variety of knowledge, it is hard to tell what we would do without the internet even for a day.

If the internet was to shut down, the first and most noticeable change will be the huge communication issues. Recently, when a popular communications service provider in Kenya shut down for close to 24 hours, the country was out of a major communication platform. Nevertheless, due to the access to other communication service providers, people were able to communicate with each other.

Imagine a situation where we will not be able to communicate with each other when no service providers can be accessed. We can forget about even having cell phone reception since the cables and satellites that support our wireless phone services will not be able to operate without the internet. We also will not be able to send and receive emails and social media. This would mean the end of easy access to fast-paced information and knowledge.

With just the touch of your screen, we can find out what is happening in other parts of the country from occasional events to even the weather just because of internet access. With no internet, we will have to rely on antenna radio and broadcast television. This would be challenging since most people have transitioned to digital television.

When the internet is shut down, even temporarily, it is viewed as very suspicious activity on the government’s part, especially during an electoral year.

There is a real fear of Internet Shutdowns during this election period (either complete or partial). There seems to be doublespeak from the government (the Cabinet Secretary and Communications Authority of Kenya giving contradicting statements). The basis of the shutdown could be brought about by public order justification for instance: to maintain public order as well as initiatives such as National Cohesion and Integration Commission’s gadgets to monitor hate mongers.

If the internet shuts down during the Election Day, transmission of results would definitely be affected and the said Virtual Private Network (VPN) set to be used to transmit tallied votes could equally be compromised. At a National Election Conference hosted by IEBC in early June, Dr Wangusi, a panellist in one of the sessions, assured Kenyans that there would be no censorship or interruption of communication on the day of elections. He also clarified that election results would be transmitted on a VPN which would see that they do not touch on the bandwidth Kenyans would use on the day.

An Internet shutdown is not the right way to maintain public order. This is because, if the internet went out, it would cause panic in the country. People would start looting, burning things down, and having no regard for local authority. The lack of information when the internet is down will force the government to turn to the martial law to restore order. This would include the local police being replaced by the army as well as new rules like curfews being implemented. This is, therefore, detrimental to a country’s economy.

However, it would be nearly impossible for a government to shut down the entire Internet. Some people in the public have access to a wide range of tools such as VPNs that can easily be used to circumvent any blocks put to deny them access to the Internet in case of an internet shutdown. There are, therefore, too many paths into and out of the country using these VPNs, which have independent providers. The providers who would have to be intimidated for a countrywide shutdown to be executed.

Written by Victoria, from http://bake.or.ke

KESIG 2017: Highlights of Day 3

Written by Samuel Muchiri, KESIG 2017 participant.

If man was left to their own nature it would be very chaotic hence laws are necessary to regulate human affairs and the internet is no exception to this as it was explained by Victor Kapiyo during introduction to legal issues that emanate from this space. There are no universally agreed laws in governing the internet as it is border less, has multi-stakeholder environment and needs cooperation.

Privacy of information is aligned by one’s perception of how private they regard it to be. Gathering of this information by government and businesses has become an area that has led to development of legislation around it. Individual’s information has become a commodity to trade with and hence selling customer’s data is a lucrative business.

Globally both self-regulation and regulation through authorities has become an accepted way of managing data protection. Cyber-crime has been a major threat to this as rise in heinous acts like phishing of user data.

Another new trend being implemented by governments is internet shutdown (an intentional disruption of internet or electronic communications, rendering them inaccessible or effectively unusable to a specific population or within a location, often to exert control over the flow of information)as explained by Grace Bomu. Justification for this has been from managing national crises during general elections, national examination, insecurity issues etc.

There are various channels used to participate and contribute in this environment. During the Internet Policy engagement session facilitated by Liz Orembo, participants listed the various platforms they have used to engage in ICT policies These include: parliament, KICTANet and public institutions through their call for public participation. Organization like ICANN, ISOC, DIPLO, KICTANet facilitate training into various domains and also offer fellowships to those who apply for this. These forums have provided growth and development of policy through their open and inclusive approach .

“For one to be in the internet economy one has to start with a domain” Abdalla C.E.O of Kenic stated as delved into explaining the business case behind domain and their genesis. gTLD eg .com, .net and ccTLD .ke for Kenya .tz for Tanzania are regard as top level domains followed by third level domains e.g.  .go.ke, sc.ke. A new development was introduction of 2nd level domains that go live from the 23rd July, 2017. This creates an opportunity for domain registrars to gain more revenue channels but also invite cyber squatters (buys a domain and seats on it) into the space.

As passionately put by Gbenga Sessan of Paradigm Initiative the Internet to us was once a thing of wonder – we take it lightly that we send and receive message at press of a button while international postal mail took 3months to get to its destination. We’ve moved from the wonder of access to utilization of internet in health, education, businesses, etc. The real focus of policy should be how to plug Africa’s talent gap with Internet opportunities.

KESIG 2017: Highlights of Day 2

Written by Samuel Muchiri, KESIG 2017 participant.

Internet stakeholders are major contributors to the development and governance of Internet. They were termed as entities that use the internet as was defined by Mwendwa Kivuva of Afrnic. Internet governance categorizes them into 5 or 6 groups that is the government, civil society, business community, technical community, academia and arguably as it was highly debated media.

From a much narrower perspective we also looked at actors who shape and manage the Internet. Some of the major organizations that came out from this discussion are IETF (Internet Engineering Task Force) that help set technical standards, RIR’s (Regional Internet Registry) that help distribute internet protocol resource around the world etc.

The Internet model is characterized by an open and free accessible process in development of technical standards and development of policy – the course of action starts from end user e.g. engineers to organization that approve these decisions e.g. ICANN, IETEF.  Forward thinking governments have been involved in these processes although some have come through a learning process into embracing multistakeholderism in which these organizations support.

The development of internet has gone through major milestones in Kenya from the use of satellite communication to undersea fiber optic cables. From use of international channels of connectivity to localization of traffic through Kenyan internet exchange point. From high transit prices of up to $2000 per MB to $4per MB and all this have been Progress within the last 8years. Development of Technical standards have not been left behind either and as put by Kevin Chege of ISOC “open standards enable permission-less innovations e.g. YouTube”

Internet governance (IG) in our country has crossed major hurdles just like the development of Internet. IG was first brought about by technical vs human right contention that arose as was explained by Alice Munyua of Africa Union during her presentation on history of Internet governance. Internet was initially meant for government in and through transitional government National Rainbow Coalition – multistakeholderism was achieved. First government body was established to deal with this and hence the launch of Communications Authority of Kenya. Multistakeholder brought with it challenges and some of them were; it was viewed as a tedious and expensive process, stand-off between government vs civil society and non-governmental organizations, it is hard for government to control internet.

Other challenges that Internet  brought with it that are becoming increasingly had to manage is Cyber-crime which has constantly become a potent issue to deal with. According to 2016 Africa Cyber Security report published by SERIANU crime in Kenya had soared to $ 175 million in 2016. As William Makatiani explained that a typical cyber-criminal in Kenya take their time in surveying their environment and destroy evidence behind their acts hence it become hard for persecution. Emerging reasons for this insecurity were that we do not know ourselves, our enemies, hackers are getting smarter and also that we don’t learn from our mistakes.

“it is important to understand how internet works for us to be able to discuss about internet governance” (AliceMunyua)

The Kenya Internet Governance Forum (KIGF) 2017 Summary

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Written by Victoria, from the Bloggers Association of Kenya.

The Kenya Internet Governance Forum celebrated 10 years of internet governance in the country. The forum always focuses on bringing in new voices and ideas from individuals who understand ICT globally and in Kenya making processes, to ensure the debates and discussions held are consistent and continuous. The KIGF week held a Youth Internet Governance Forum for the first time as well as the School of Internet Governance.

The first discussion held at the forum focused on Technology Use in the upcoming elections. The role and contribution of technology in the elections were the main topics of the discussion. Citizens expect elections to be transparent and accountable. The use of technology in elections ensures these are achieved. In the upcoming general elections, Chris Musandu of IEBC clarified that the election process was semi-electronic since the method of casting a vote is purely manual. The electoral process cannot fully depend on technology which only complements this process making it free and fair.

The issue of fake news or alternative news was also a topic in the use of technology in elections discussions. People who run these platforms earn a living from it. Therefore, stopping this news from spreading can be challenging. However, an individual who propagates alternative news and is charged for this offence faces a 1 million Kenyan Shillings fine or a five-year jail term.

The second topic of discussion was on enhancing cyber security in Kenya. Cyber threats have become rampant over the years. The threats can face any individual including government entities. Most individuals in the ICT industry face challenges pertaining to cyber threats but prefer to face them alone without telling others. This should otherwise be avoided and the knowledge and information learnt should be shared with other concerned parties. Concerned parties in the ICT sector should work more on collaboration since individuals who disseminate cyber threats are increasing and there needs to be collaboration and togetherness to fight these threats.

However, today, people are targeting customers instead of the system. This is a form of social engineering, which uses fear and urgency to get information from customers.

The case of online bullying was also mentioned. This particular subtopic focused on protecting children from online content that is harmful to them from online games, online betting to being targeted on their social media platforms. This includes gaming channels like the previous ‘Blue Whale’ that led to the death of a teenager in Kenya. Education and awareness on online use are therefore important to not only the children but also the teacher, parents and guardians because it is everyone’s responsibility to protect them.

The next topic of discussion was on how to safeguard free speech and privacy online, especially, in the electoral context. How many times have we heard or read about the hate speech and online defamation particularly targeted at politicians this year? Are there laws and regulations that bind the use of these words? We all need to be responsible while using online platforms. The public should also be well informed on what hate speech is and how they pose a threat to the country considering the fact that freedom of expression and free speech are constitutional. The election is a very competitive contest where individuals are seeking power, how they communicate on online platforms should be well monitored if they are propagating any certain threats.

Information controls was the final topic of discussion for the day. The question about who is responsible for Internet control was raised. Freedom is not absolute and everyone is responsible for enjoying these freedoms because when we choose to publish or tweet we have chosen to share our opinions.

The government assured us that there would be no internet shut down during the upcoming elections. It was pointed out that, an internet shutdown would lead to the loss of investor confidence to a country besides the loss of revenue, which is measured to a country’s GDP.

There are many harmful websites on the internet and we cannot be able to have control to all of them. Therefore, we have to be responsible to ensure we always use the freedom we have online to achieve the best in aspects. There also need to be trust within the government and the people, because if we are not truthful, there will not be any trust. There is also a place for everyone in the ICT ecosystem and we should all be involved in keeping it safe for everyone.

The Kenya Internet Governance Forum was a success. It was not just a social event but also an informative event full of discussions from the panel and the audience alike.

Written by Victoria, from http://bake.or.ke

The Growth of Fintech Ecosystem in Kenya

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Written by Victoria, from the Bloggers Association of Kenya.

Kenya is the birthplace of some of the most revolutionary FinTech ideas. The FinTech ecosystem is fast growing in the country.

Investopedia defines the term ‘FinTech’ as, ‘a portmanteau of financial technology that describes an emerging financial services sector in the 21st century. Originally, the term applied to technology applied to the back-end of established consumer and trade financial institutions. Since the end of the first decade of the 21st century, the term has expanded to include any technological innovation in the financial sector, including innovations in financial literacy and education, retail banking, investment and even crypto-currencies like bitcoin.’

These are discussions held online concerning the Kenya Internet Governance Forum by Kenya ICT Action Network on the topic ‘FinTech Ecosystems in Kenya’.

Fintech seems to be technical but because we are all involved in it one way or another, we definitely have lessons and opinions on what needs to be done.

Is the business environment in Kenya conducive for FinTech business?

Our internet penetration levels are high compared other African states. Keeping in mind how mobile money has also picked up, there is definitely a conducive environment for FinTech.

A new law needs to be enacted to enable Africa’s first virtual bank to be born in Kenya. Kenya is the birthplace of Mpesa. Where we account for 10% of all global mobile money transactions. Yet we have a policy and regulatory regime that is still steeped in the physical cash economy.

Today, we do not visit banks anymore, we do not line up at Kenya Power; Nairobi Water or other utilities to pay our bills; we do not send money via Rift Valley Express, Coast Bus or Posta; we even pay our taxes virtually and we use Uber to travel within the city. We only need to simply use Mpesa or Pesalink to pay for these services.

However, the Kenyan FinTech environment needed to make it conducive is simply archaic from a regulatory point of view. For example, getting a mobile wallet approved by the regulator is somewhat a long process.

We need to consolidate our gains by opening up the policy and regulatory framework to make it easy and fast to move to the next phase of this Fintech Innovation.

Kenya should, therefore, have an enabling policy environment or framework that will foster growth in this sector because what we are currently doing is playing in the periphery.

Disruption is as much a form of social evolution as it is of technological improvements. We are all evolving socially and/or otherwise.

What is the experience of companies scaling & deploying FinTech to other countries in the region?

Collaboration in the FinTech industry unlocks digital growth because Fintech innovation opens up new opportunities. FinTech has helped drive tremendous advances across the financial services ecosystem through reshaping the status quo in a complex and highly regulated industry. Fintech companies are delivering more tailored, convenient and affordable solutions for underserved populations and communities.

Neither start-ups nor traditional financial institutions will be able to independently provide the range of specialised products and services that are needed to address the increasingly fragmented financial lives of 21st-century individuals and businesses.

In order to effectively navigate an increasingly complex financial system and meet changing customer expectations, companies today must build upon and extend their own unique areas of expertise by pursuing opportunities to partner. 

However, with collaboration, new customer expectations are drawing traditional institutions out of their comfort zones; the ability to scale remains a challenge for FinTech start-ups and the global economy is in a constant state of uncertainty.

Fintech startups should remember, successful partnerships put the customer first.

Have banks finally caught on FinTech with their solutions?

Banks have not really caught up but they are trying to blend their products with technological solutions. This wake-up call may have occurred when interest rates were capped. It is however quite clear banks will lead to this new product and not the FinTechs as much touted.

Kenyan banks seem to be playing a catch-up game to Mpesa in the area of mobile banking with their innovative product Pesalink. Banks are actually not charging any transaction costs, unlike Mpesa, when you transfer money between accounts in the same bank. One can even buy more M-AKIBA bonds on PesaLink than when you use Mpesa.

How will bitcoins & blockchain technology affect the market?

Cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin have started being hyped by block chain enthusiasts. However, when CBK will recognise it, it’s true effect will be seen.

The transformation of the financial services industry is top-of-mind for everyone in the field and blockchain might be the hottest topic in the rapidly changing world of Fintech. Nevertheless, how can this technology really help financial firms? A report from World Economic Forum takes a pragmatic approach to highlight more on this question.

When you converse with people in the Bitcoin community, there is only one thing mentioned – as was during the dot.com era, “Bitcoin is here and will change everything“. What all those Crypto-pundits fail to remember or read about is, at the beginning of the dot.com boom there was Netscape, Yahoo, AOL, Lycos, Alsta, Vista among others. The outcome yielded different top players: Amazon, Google and Salesforce.

Again, as with the dot.com era, the larger public does not clearly understand what is happening. While the media mulls over Bitcoin and gives credence to a slew of people proclaiming a “decentralised network that no one will own” to a naive public and convince them to dump millions into “ICO”, there is something else happening. Considering Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Microsoft and Google, do you think it’s a coincidence they are major deployments for many block chain networks?

As with previous players, the winners are already taking in massive rewards because they are already hooked into an existing Information Technology and Banking Infrastructure. Currently, investments are only flowing into blockchain infrastructure that must be enterprise grade. This is similar to when the Internet did not make IT departments irrelevant and blockchain will not replace IT departments. What will change is the speed and types of skillset needed in it. There will be no immediate shift to everything block chain – there will be long periods of co-existing and integration with existing IT systems. However, block chain will lead to a strong surge in cloud adoption.

The consequence of block chain among consumers will be most felt in Infrastructure were developments relating to Identity, Privacy and Security are taking shape.

Bitcoin, therefore, does not have a fur fetching future

Written by Victoria, from http://bake.or.ke

ICT in the Kenyan Counties

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Written by Victoria, from the Bloggers Association of Kenya.

The globe is experiencing an exceptional growth in the information and technology (ICT) sector. This has seen immense growth in the social, economic, and business operations happening due to this global digitisation. The Kenyan government has not being left behind as it has embraced digitisation in their practices and processes. The ICT sector in the country has helped to reduce the cost of communication, increase market information and facilitate doing business.

E-citizen is one of Kenya’s ICT online platforms that have seen Kenyans get easy access to government services. The e-Citizen portal has grown immensely since it was launched in 2014. So far,1.23 million Kenyans have registered on the portal up from 400,000 Kenyans as at June 2015, while 2.4 billion shillings have been collected.

Services are accessible by registering on an online portal or via USSD on a mobile device using the existing Paybill transaction type. Payment technologies available include mobile money, cards and PayPal. Other services available on separate platforms include M-Service, a web portal for filing and making payments for domestic taxes, customs and vehicle logbook fees, and M-AKIBA, the highly anticipated $5 million infrastructure bond that is been issued and traded exclusively via mobile money.

In the counties, the ‘Huduma Centres’ has been a supporting structure making it easier for citizens to access government services. Huduma Centers are one-stop shops set up countrywide by the government to complement the eCitizen portal by providing additional services and those requiring physical presence or special assistance. This means that citizens are able to get birth certificates, national identity cards, passports, registration of business names, and applications for marriage certificates, drivers’ licences, police abstract and many other services in one place.

Each county (47) has Huduma Centres comprising mainly of upgraded post office outlets, with mobile units serving extremely remote areas. On average, 12,000 people are served daily at Huduma Centers, and as of June 2015, payments for services rendered totalled $50 million.

Some counties have adopted ICT quite well while other lag behind through free internet access and usage. Some counties, such as Nakuru, Kiambu and Kisumu have tried offering free WiFi to residents.

A document on the Government E-payments Adoption Ranking (GEAR) 2011, outlines the positive impact of digitising government service payments on the integration of the informal economy. Nairobi, is one of the counties, that has improved its revenue collection through the e-payments system.

Despite all these success’, the ICT sector in Kenya faces challenges, especially, at the county level. Digitisation is challenged by many factors including financial restraints, inadequate personnel in the projects, poor handling of original documents and material and inadequate resources and infrastructure for digitisation. Technical expertise of project staff and procurement procedures are other challenges which hinder effective digitisation in government.

It has been revealed that various county departments in Kenya undertaking digitisation projects have formulated strategies, which have enabled them to cope with some of the challenges faced in the ICT sector. Effective strategies have included documenting standards and best practices to be applied uniformly and planning, monitoring, and operational budgeting in the project. Other strategies usually applied include having digital and quality standards and policy enactment before digitisation starts. These improve coordinating with other departments that could use ICT effectively. Counties, which have passionate ICT officers, can be of assistance in coordination with other staff in other counties.

To ensure the digitisation process in Kenya is successful, the county government departments should ensure that proper planning, and budgeting is done even before the project starts. In addition, every department engaged in digitisation should ensure a consistent, high level of image quality across collections. Not forgetting to mention, all digitisation projects in government should decrease the likelihood of re-digitizing in the future by promoting best practices for conversion of materials into digital format and the long-term preservation of these digital resources.

Information Source:

nextbillion.net

uonbi.ac.ke

Written by Victoria, from http://bake.or.ke