Tuesday, 22 September 2015

SumRando Speaks: 5 Questions with Kaspersky Lab’s Bethwel Opil

Our last installment of SumRando Speaks featured our very own CEO and Founder. This week we bring you an interview with Kaspersky Lab Africa's Bethwel Opil, who shares the influence Kaspersky has had on law enforcement in London and digital development in Gabon; the state of cyber infections in Africa versus the Middle East; Kenya's recent steps towards enhanced cybersecurity; and valuable tips to remain secure both on and offline.

Describe the work you do for Kaspersky Lab and why you do it.
Kaspersky, Bethwel Opil, SumRando Speaks, cybersecurity, Africa, East Africa, Kenya, Gabon, London
I am the Channel Sales Manager of East Africa for Kaspersky Lab. Among my responsibilities are driving the business by developing quality plans within the Partner businesses and working with key C-level executives. I lead channel business development and partner segmentation and selection across the entire Eastern Africa region. I need to ensure the Partners are equipped to compete effectively and to provide the Kaspersky Lab product offering to businesses and consumers in the region. I plan, define, execute and manage Marketing and Sales Programmes in liaison with the Marketing manager, Consumer and Corporate Retail Sales Managers for Sub-Saharan Africa. And of course I need to check the cybercrime situation, market conditions, trends or changes in the industry.

Given the growing interest in cybercrime and as a result the growing hacking and cybercriminal community (globally but which also impacts East Africa), my role at Kaspersky Lab is important - as the brand is not only passionate about raising awareness on security issues among businesses and consumers of cybercrime realities, but also on the necessary protection around this and of course supplying solutions that can offer this much needed protection in this region.

What is Kaspersky Lab's greatest success to date?
With a belief that everyone – from home computer users through to large corporations and governments – should be able to protect what matters to them most, Kaspersky Lab has had many successes to date. We openly share our knowledge and technical findings with the world’s security community and publish our research for the wider public to encourage collaborative security practices and increased international cooperation. We work together with the global IT security community, international organisations, national and regional law enforcement agencies (e.g. INTERPOL, Europol, Microsoft Digital Crimes Unit, The National High Tech Crime Unit (NHTCU) of the Netherlands’ Police Agency and The City of London Police), as well as Computer Emergency Response Teams (CERTs) worldwide. In particular, in 2014 Kaspersky Lab joined forces with the City of London Police - to educate police forces on ways to tackle cybercrime. Cybercrime plays a huge part in fraud offence numbers today, with seven out of ten scams now Internet-related, according to the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau. The complex and alien nature of such crimes, however, means that they are not only difficult to combat, but also to detect and understand. To help tackle the rise in cybercrime, City of London Police enlisted Kaspersky Lab to train its police officers at all levels on these ever-growing threats. This innovative training programme was the first of its kind with UK law enforcement, and aimed to provide the skills and knowledge to identify and resolve these sorts of crimes – from an individual victim encountering fraud during an online shopping-spree to a business losing thousands of pounds from a targeted attack.

Another project I would name is our current work on different aspects of cybersecurity with the National Agency of Digital Infrastructures and Frequencies (ANINF) of Gabon. ANINF is the Gabonese government agency responsible for implementing a digital development strategy in the country, for planning, installation and application of all digital projects, including telecommunications, audio-visual and IT in the country.

From an East African perspective, Kaspersky Lab has shown success in market share, and in East Africa we have been at the fore front of educating the public about cyber security. The brand is also protecting some of the largest businesses in East Africa, which is testament to our expertise and solid product offering.

You are based in Kenya, but Kaspersky Lab operates in nearly every country in the world. From your perspective, are the issues faced in East Africa regarding digital privacy and net neutrality unique or are they similar to those faced elsewhere? 
With the Internet, widely spread all over the world, cyberthreats have global reach, though some countries and regions are attacked more often than others are.
Based on our statistics of Kaspersky Security Network, South Africa, Nigeria and Kenya don’t have that much cyber infections registered as, for example, Egypt, and are way behind a number of the Middle East countries. But it was recently reported that Africa is leading the world in Internet growth – where growth in international Internet capacity connected to Africa outpaces all other regions of the world. And unfortunately growth in Internet development triggers cybercriminal activity across Africa, including Kenya - where online criminals are constantly using the Internet, creating new ways to earn money which include getting their hands on personal important data – that can compromise digital identities.

If cyber criminals get hold of your passwords and personal data, they can take on your ‘digital identity’ – and not only defraud you out of money, but also cause a host of long-term problems. For that reason you need to ensure that your digital identity is protected – no matter where you are or where you live on the globe. East Africa’s situation is not unique – all countries on the globe suffer this reality and need to take cyber security and the security of digital identities very seriously.

What individual, organisation or law would you like to recognise for its work in support of or against digital privacy rights and net neutrality? 
The Ministry of Information of Kenya is doing good work in this regard. In response to the growing cyber threat landscape, and in support of the national priorities and ICT goals defined in Kenya’s Vision 2030 – Kenya’s ICT Ministry developed a National Cybersecurity Strategy (Strategy). In 2013, the Ministry of ICT said that Kenya is committed to enacting the necessary legislation on Cyber Crime.  

I believe that such commitment from the government is a great step forward here and will go a long way in the fight against cybercrime.

What measures do you take to protect your digital privacy and security?
I try to be cautious and use security solutions that protect me both when I’m online and without Internet connection, because even a USB can carry some banking Trojan or ransomware that can block or encrypt files and make them unavailable until the money is paid. Whenever I am going to use the Internet, I am always aware of the following:
  • What device am I using, and more importantly, is this device protected with the right security (like Kaspersky Total Security – multi-device – that offers effective protection across a PC, phone and tablet). If the device is not protected with effective security software, I don’t make any connections that are connected with my identity - I just browse for news, for example, and I don’t go to websites that require entering account credentials.
  • If I am going to access Wi-Fi – I always check that I am going to access a secure Wi-Fi line – one that requires a password – to ensure that I am extra secure.
  • When going online, I always check that the site I am trying to access is legitimate – in that it makes use of a proper IP address.
  • I am aware of all ‘pop ups’ online (be it adverts or a message asking me to click something) that might be malicious – I never click on any pop up, as it may be a virus or scam.

Bethwel Opil joined Kaspersky Lab in March 2012 as Channel Sales Manager for East Africa, Kaspersky Lab Africa. Bethwel has over 10 years of experience in managing distribution channels in IT and telecommunications companies. Bethwel graduated from Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology with a BSc in Mathematics and Computer Science before going on to complete a Management and Organisation course at the Kenya School of Monetary Studies.

SumRando Cybersecurity is a South Africa-based VPN, Web Proxy and Secure Messenger provider. Surf secure and stay Rando!

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