Build digital resilience amid cyber threats, businesses told

Safaricom CEO Peter Ndegwa

Safaricom CEO Peter Ndegwa delivers his speech during the annual Engineering Summit dubbed Decode held on October 11, 2023 at Sarit Expo Centre, Nairobi. 

Photo credit: Billy Ogada | Nation Media Group

Businesses have been urged to build their digital resilience against emerging threats such as cyberattacks even as they tap into the immense opportunities that are being birthed by the rapid digitisation of critical functions.

This was the pre-eminent theme in the panel discussions that were held during the second and last day of the Safaricom Engineering Summit yesterday.

The forum dubbed Decode 2.0 is the second engineering summit hosted by Safaricom. The first summit, christened Decode, was hosted in July last year.

On Thursday, October 12, attendees were treated to powerful presentations from representatives of the event’s partners including Oracle, Huawei, Dell Technologies and Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE).

The other partners that made the summit a reality are Mitsumi Distribution, Amazon Web Services (AWS), Techsavanna and Redington.

In one of the discussions titled ‘Building an Anti-fragile Digital Ecosystem for Business Continuity’, panellists discussed the importance of making businesses agile to respond to changes in the ecosystem or customer demands.

Mr Ravi Baldev, the chief technology officer for Dell in Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA), said businesses that have put in place sufficient buffers against threats are able to emerge quickly from such setbacks.

“Anti-fragility means that if there is an event such as a cyberattack or physical destruction, the organisation is able to stand up quickly. There is another concept called Survival Alpha which means that if all organisations face the same attack, event or destruction, the one that is able to stand up quickly takes over the market,” said Mr Baldev.

In building their resilience, businesses have been urged to consider not only the reliability of their services and technology but also that of the people who run the technology.

They have been told to consider best practices from a tech perspective, map out chains of failure, the requirements of the regulators of the specific sector the business operates in, and map out the people and processes that are depended upon.

“An anti-fragile system needs to be resilient and adaptable. For instance, one of the key elements of information security systems is not that they are not going to break or be attacked but if it is able to adapt to what it has already learned from that experience,” said Mr Amritpal Singh, the service business manager at HPE.

Amid the digitisation drive, access to the cloud by businesses to store and access data, applications and resources over the internet has become critical for business operations.

During the summit, a panel discussion titled ‘Democratising the Cloud: Enabling Accessibility and Flexibility for all Business Scales’ discussed the importance of making access to the cloud by businesses of all sizes easier and cheaper.

The panel observed that there is a growing number of businesses that are running on cloud and that most firms are moving back from what is referred to as public cloud hosted outside the country to local cloud that is hosted within the country.

The panellists also noted the high cost of businesses running their services on cloud, indicating that some have been forced to discontinue cloud services and move back to hosting their data on premise.

“For you to build your applications to be sustainable, easy to change, easy to move between platforms and access to different providers, you have to build them in a cloud-native environment. That is why it is hard to make changes and sustain native applications in a cloud environment,” said Mr Jeremiah Chunge, the chief technology officer at Etica Capital Ltd.

Ms Maureen Mwaniki, the director Women in Technology at Huawei, yesterday said the company will be partnering with Safaricom to provide trainings in cybersecurity, cloud computing and networking and 5G in a bid to skill young tech talent, especially women.

“Huawei, just like Safaricom, has a dedicated global programme to support women in technology and we continue to expand it with like-minded partners,” she said.