SIM validation deadline looms as Kenya firms up cybersecurity

 SIM validation deadline looms as Kenya firms up cybersecurity

According to the Communications Authority of Kenya, subscribers in possession of unregistered sim-cards risk fines of up to Kes.300,000 or a jail term of six months, or both once the October 15th deadline to validate Simcards passes.

An increasing number of handset designs in Kenya are becoming more adaptable to dual and multiple SIM cards, giving subscribers the opportunity to own many lines under different telcos.

Improved digital inclusion and policies are also working in sync to encourage the ownership and use of multiple SIM cards.

With the rise in the use of more than one SIM card by individuals, however, a myriad of risks abounds as an increasing number of subscribers seek various services from different providers.

In June, the country was left in shock when one Farah Bashir came out narrating how fraudsters made away with Kes.2.6 million of his savings through what appeared to be unauthorized mobile-enabled access to his bank accounts.

Many other Kenyans have suffered a similar fate as Mr Bashir in clever plots targeted at unsuspecting people by criminals who often pose as service agents of various telcos as well as banks.

In Kenya, some fraudsters go to the extent of registering an existing number on a new SIM card with a view to intercept messages, one-time passwords, online banking profiles, and transactions as well as gain the ability to change one’s account security settings.

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As part of the efforts to ward off criminals, who perfect their criminal activities through the use of mobile phones, the industry regulator, Communications Authority of Kenya, (CA) has been urging subscribers to register their SIMs with their service providers.

And following the lapse of the earlier deadline of 15th April 2022, the Authority extended it by six months to 15th October 2022, providing Kenyans with the chance to register their SIMs and therefore help lock out criminals from gaining control of their sim cards.

Some of the consumer concerns that pushed to the Authority to extend the deadline by six months included how to address the needs of subscribers outside Kenya and in rural and remote parts of the country.

Others were how to avail the service to the vulnerable groups of the population, who may not be in a position to present themselves physically for SIM registration.

‘‘Subsequently, any case of non-compliance with the SIM Card Registration Regulations 2015 by either the operators or subscribers will attract immediate penalties as laid out by law,’’ stated Ezra Chiloba, CA Director-General, in April.

Subscribers in possession of unregistered sim-cards risk fines of up to Kes.300,000 or a jail term of six months, or both, the regulator explained.

Mobile service provider Safaricom is providing millions of subscribers with various avenues through which one can register their SIMs.

Besides visiting the telco’s customer service shops countrywide, customers can dial up *106# and follow the self-service prompts to register their SIMs. This method also allows one to establish whether their SIMs have been registered by another individual and even “report unknown numbers” under their name.

For customers who wish to carry out the task at the comfort of their home, or office, one can log on to www.safaricom.com or update their details via MySafaricom App while on the move.

For successful simcard registration, one would be required to provide their national ID, Passport or Alien Card for foreigners and Service Card for subscribers who are serving in the military. Holders of company-owned Simcard are advised to avail a certified copy of the company Incorporation or registry.

According to the Kenya Information and Communications Act, all telcos should be compliant in the subscriber registration by mid- October.

A recent CA report shows that the number of active mobile (SIM) subscriptions was 65.08 million in the quarter ended December 2021 compared to the 64.89 million subscriptions recorded by end of September.

Once the clan up of SIM ownership data is completed, Kenya will have joined other countries in the world that have developed similar policies in a bid to boost cybersecurity.



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