Insights from CEO of Liquid Intelligent Technologies Rwanda on Safeguarding Data Privacy and Cybersecurity in the Digital Age

On 29 March 2023 at 12:12

In an era where data breaches and cyber-attacks are becoming increasingly common, protecting data privacy and cyber security is more critical than ever. Alexis Kabeja, the CEO of Liquid Intelligent Technologies Rwanda, has highlighted the importance of adopting a comprehensive cyber security strategy to ensure financial wellbeing, customer trust and reputation.

He emphasized the need for businesses to stay informed about the latest developments in data privacy and security, and to adopt best practices in encryption, firewalls, intrusion detection and prevention systems, VPNs, and biometric authentication.

Kabeja underscores that any company is vulnerable to data breaches and cyber-attacks where businesses must prioritize cyber security and build their cyber security capabilities. Kabeja also offers tips on strengthening security at the workplace and for individuals, as well as how companies can balance the need to collect and use data for business purposes with the need to protect the privacy of individuals.


How data privacy and data protection are intertwined and what financial implications could it have?

Data privacy is a fundamental right and is recognised under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and various other international covenants, whereas ‘data protection’ means the tools, mechanism, and policies to secure the data to access by a third party without its owner’s consent. The cost of data breaches has clearly impacted macroeconomies making strong security mission-critical. Business leaders face tough choices as the cost of data breaches continues to rise. If the cost of business increases due to security concerns, then goods and service prices will also rise and people lose their jobs due to breaches. Therefore, the practice of protecting digital information from corruption, theft, and unauthorised access to hardware and software devices is vital in ensuring financial wellbeing.

The importance of technology in cyber security, such as encryption and firewalls

Savvy cybercriminals use sophisticated technologies because they are more difficult for traditional cyber security tools to detect. Technology plays a crucial role in cyber security by providing tools and systems to protect sensitive information and systems from unauthorised access, use, disclosure, disruption, modification, or destruction. Encryption is a key technology that helps to secure data by converting it into a code that can only be deciphered with the correct key. Firewalls are another important technology used to control network access and protect against unauthorised access and cyber-attacks. Other technologies such as intrusion detection and prevention systems, virtual private networks (VPNs), and biometric authentication also play important roles in securing information systems and networks.

Are businesses doing enough to protect themselves against data breaches?

African businesses are not giving cyber security the priority it deserves, and this inadequate security is directly affecting business for enterprises, as well as countries. Businesses in Africa are particularly vulnerable with more than half of the countries having inadequate cyber security laws and regulations, making it a haven for cybercriminals.

Businesses operating in this environment face a dual challenge: lobbying governments for more stringent cyber security laws and protections and addressing the immediate threats. Rwanda, for example, has invested significantly in Information and Communications Technology (ICT) infrastructure and applications, as a cornerstone for National economic growth. Even though the rapid development of ICT determines Rwanda’s journey towards economic development, these technologies have introduced new types of threats such as data breaches. Therefore, it is imperative that businesses in Rwanda prioritise cyber security and build their cyber security capabilities for detection, prevention and response.

How can businesses stay informed about the latest developments in data privacy and security and stay ahead of potential threats?

Businesses need to adopt a two-pronged approach against sophisticated cybercriminals. Businesses need to adopt best-practice mitigation and management protocols and continuous training and awareness programmes to protect against vulnerabilities and threats from within.

The types of businesses most at risk from data breaches or cyberattacks

Companies, corporations and businesses are especially vulnerable as most of the sensitive and confidential company information is stored online but individuals can succumb to such attacks too. That is what makes cyber security so indispensable because anyone can be exposed anywhere in this digital economy.

Smart tips for strengthening security at the workplace, as well as best practices for individuals?

Many organisation do not have sufficient resources to educate staff on data management. With this lack of awareness and resources, human error continues to be the driving force behind an overwhelming majority of cyber security compromises.

Poor password is also a significant contributor towards compromises, with not enough individuals and corporations applying best practice and taking advantage of built-in mechanisms such as group policy enforcement, strong encryption, and multi-factor authentication. It is key to have multi-layered approach to strengthen security at the workplace and organisations need to partner with a service provider with proper expertise and experience to adopt a well-tailored cyber security strategy specific to their business needs.

How do businesses balance the need to collect and use data for business purposes with the need to protect the privacy of individuals?

We at Liquid Intelligent Technologies encourage all businesses to have a formal cyber security framework aligned to their strategy and objectives which requires a continuous management and improvement of the technologies and systems and establishment of an information security management system (ISMS) and resilience control. Enterprises of different sizes have varying capacity and budgets, different information security requirements, face different threats, and have different legislative, regulatory, or industry requirements to comply with. They also have different people challenges, processes, IT footprints, services, and applications, so their cyber security frameworks need to consider all these factors.

How does a company’s approach to data privacy and security impact its reputation and customer trust?

Trust is an essential element of a customer relationship. Cyber-attacks damages reputation and erode the trust customers have for companies. This, in turn, could potentially lead to loss of customers, loss of sales and reduction in profits.

Alexis Kabeja is the CEO of Liquid Intelligent Technologies Rwanda.