The Timeless, Fragile Value Of Trust

Feel welcomed as we meet the Colonel, the Consul and the CEO in exploring the theme of trust, one of KeIGF2020’s tenets. We reside as the silent audience of this panel discussion on the defence and protection against cyber threats. #KeIGF2020

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Trust is one of our most natural instincts. One that doesn’t need to be taught. You either feel it or feel the absence of it. The Internet is a place where no location seems bound, no time seems too strict and communities from all around the world come together, easily as one.

Trust is a pre-requisite for the maturation, enhancement and collaboration of all communities. The digital society is no different and it’s inherent to increase trust in the cyberspace. Set as one of the themes propagated by the Kenya Internet Governance Forum (KeIGF) 2020, it is an important and inseparable topic from the issue of Internet Governance.

“Without security you cannot enjoy privacy, I consider security as a fundamental requirement for trust,” Col. Evans Ombati, Director of the National Cyber Command Centre (NC3) affirms. Security and privacy reverberate in the same frequency. There is a requirement and demand to relinquish data and information in order to enhance your digital experience.

There is an expectation from any entity that their consumers’ private data will be secured and protected, especially over the internet. “Data is a national resource, as it is used for national or strategic planning and security,” says the Colonel. There can be no refuting that everyone wants to be assured that ICT’s are safe, the internet is protected and the data shared is taken care of in a manner that protects them from hackers and malicious cybercriminals, data misuse, harassment and violation as well as any unauthorised activity.

“The government of Kenya is very keen on promoting all aspects in ensuring that our national cyberspace is protected,” Col.Ombati further remarks. “There is an advancement in co-ordination. The NC3 have been coordinating most of these issues with the ICT Authority, the Communications Authority, KECIRT/CC, KeNIC, and the Ministry of ICT to synchronize efforts towards ensuring a safe nation-state,” he further states. Does anyone hear an orchestra? Because that sounds like harmony. Internet governance and cyber-security management can be surely strengthened with legislative support from the government.

There is also an aspect of, a lack of verification systems and no unified set of technical standards perhaps aggravated by the globalisation of the value chain. Many of our gadgets have several components that are made in different countries and with different standards, thus sort of blurring the lines of jurisdiction which can be a cause for concern. As echoed by the Kernels statement that as a rising challenge, “our nation is behind in ensuring that we have security control to manage any arising issues from the cyber environment”

Digital consumers have every right to know what information is being collected about them and for what purpose. There is some sense of a tug of war required when it comes how much information you give and the quality of the online experience you have. In terms of a simple example, the clearer you are on a Google search, the more tailored your search results.

Thus, you generally have a better experience but, this also opens up the floor for exploitation by brands, entities, governments, cyber-criminals and hackers and you’re left open and exposed to phishing scams, spyware, malware etc. Therefore, it’s also imperative to watch what you put online and the manner in which you behave. “There must be a need for all of us to think, conduct and act cautiously with all internet-related businesses,” Col.Ombati warns.

The moderator, John Walubengo, Lecturer at Multimedia University then approaches H.E. Kadri Humal Ayal, Honorary Consul of Estonia in Kenya, asking, “Estonia has been a success story in terms of implementing cybersecurity at a national level, how did you balance the often conflicting objectives of the government collecting data vs. the human rights requirement to ensure that data is protected? Prof. Walubengo asks The Consul Kadri Humal-Ayal.

“On the aspect of trust, it is essential for creating a secure digital environment where people can make meaningful interactions in confidence. People trust the service and the company providing it and it’s reflected in their success,” responds Kadri.  The success of M-PESA is a great example as “there are more Kenyans with mobile phones than with laptops,” she continues.

Identity in general, whether physical or in the digital world is the cornerstone of all legal interactions between people, businesses and estates. In the modern digital world, people’s ability to prove who they are using national digital identities is a must for conducting e-banking, accessing e-services and other accomplice e-transactions. As we move towards fully developing the digital economy here in Kenya, the challenges and cyber threats will increase, this is why it’s crucial to proactively work on the trust factor by implementing already proven solutions known, such as trust services or national mobile identities solutions, to strengthen Kenya’s precision as digital trailblazers.

“We can have a government-issued mobile ID, a digital equivalent in the mobile-first approach. If Kenya wants to benefit from security practices, then policy measures that facilitate the implementations need to be accelerated. That is in regard to e-signatures, Huduma Namba usage and the tools for citizens to make use of these facilities,” she says. “Safety by design and privacy by design are great concepts, though they become tools when there is critical digital infrastructure to support them. The citizens are able to verify how, when and who is using, viewing or altering their data,” she closes.

The CEO of KeNIC, Joel Karubui then speaks… “As a critical government infrastructure, we make sure to be reliable, resilient and stable because domain names are the backbone to internet usage,” he begins. Domain names have a linkage to online use and are unique identifiers. Every country has a top-level domain code such as “.ke’ for Kenya or “.au” for Australia. Thus, once you are on the internet, your identification is easily known through the domain name. KeNIC manages and administers the Kenyan domain name to entities.

“The first thing to do is to have a domain name that is trustworthy,” he says. This ensures all users that you can be trusted because you are showing who you are through your domain name. Online trust has been an area that the digital ecosystem has tried to deal with. One key aspect is looking at is a multi-stakeholder model that allows all of us to talk in one unified direction of what trust looks like.

“We all need to talk the same language and we all need policies that work for us, so when we are looking at the internet space and the threats that are there. Trust as a personal responsibility as it always begins with you and what you post online as well as how you get on the internet and the various platforms you use,” he finishes in closing.

Trust is the timeless backbone of all interactions from a micro level to a macro level. It can never run out of style and it is of the essence, so much so that without it, community development suffers on all accords and as a whole, also exposes vulnerabilities that can be detrimental to society.

 

 

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