Serianu, a Kenyan cyber security consultancy firm has partnered with the United States International University in Africa (USIU) to strengthen its research in the emerging area of corporate information and technology use.
According to the memorandum of understanding signed between the two institutions, Serianu will work with the USIU's Centre for Informatics Research and Innovation (CIRI), at the School of Science and Technology, with the former providing leadership in Internet security research, developing the most relevant cyber security infrastructure for the university and expanding the courses to include modern information security. The USIU-Serianu partnership includes conducting a market study whose results will be published in the Kenya Cyber Security Report 2013. Serianu Managing Director, William Makatiani, said in a statement that the USIU-Serianu partnership will also increase the firm's access to a larger pool of cyber security professionals and foster the growth of a new generation of experts and analysts.
"In the recent past, Kenyan companies have come under increasing attacks by hackers, spreading terror among IT professionals and exposing employee and corporate information to external manipulation. This is a stage that we should have anticipated and it is forcing especially banks and financial institutions to invest more money in systems that have greater protection abilities," said Makatiani.
He explained that these new enterprise systems cost capital investments running into millions of dollars yet advancements in Internet security now enabled firms to selectively develop measures that would secure their information from external aggressors. "We expect that taking this approach to managing their data security will save organisations and reduce their capital investment and operational running costs," added Makatiani.
While information security is becoming more and more crucial to East African businesses, only 10 percent of organizations allocate 11 percent or more of their ICT budget to information security. Most of the organizations in the region dedicate less than 5 percent of their ICT budget to information security budget. Ideally organisations will need to dedicate between 15 - 20 percent of their IT budgets to Information security. Recent statistics from the February 2013 Julisha Report by Kenya ICT Board show that the local capital investment in IT will grow at an annual compound growth rate of 9.1 percent between 2011 and 2016 to reach a value of Kshs. 9 billion.
Information security, he noted, had become an increasingly important issue in the East African region, as more organisations automate their processes and increase their dependence on IT. To stay ahead of the threat curve, they need to keep up with new research, build local cyber threat management infrastructure and enhance their ability to anticipate, detect, respond and contain threats. Makatiani explained that Serianu was in the process of setting up a Kenyan Cyber Security Command Centre a facility that will be critical for local and regional firms and governments.
Dr. Jimmy Macharia, Dean of the School of Science and Technology at USIU said that "The USIU-Serianu partnership was testament to the drive for academic institutions to work jointly with private sector players to undertake industry research, train and establish world class IT facilities locally.
"USIU has invested financial, man power and infrastructure in setting up the research program and ICT facilities that will see us expand our training offering especially to IT professionals who are already working," he added.
His views were echoed by Paula Musuva, Associate Director of Information and Cyber-Security Research in CIRI and also a lecturer at USIU. She noted that the focus on information security would uniquely position the institution as a Centre of Excellence in Information and Cyber Security Research and Training. She also announced that the two organisations had established an internship program that will regularly admit USIU students and expose them to the work environment to help them enhance their skills befor