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IT firms accuse INSA of “crowding out”

The expansive behavior of the Intelligence Network Security Agency (INSA) in the field of ICT business here, according to local IT firms, has come to the point where the agency which was supposed to regulate and monitor the sector, is now poised to crowding them out.

 The complainants voiced concerns against INSA when the latter began to dominate procurements of ICT projects. Recently, the likes of the National Bank of Ethiopia (NBE) and the Development Bank of Ethiopia (DBE) awarded data center projects to INSA.

However, according to sources The Reporter approached, the cyber security agency has outsourced such projects to third parties, and thus excluding local firms. Some of the projects INSA put hands on have been outsourced to foreign companies while competent local firms have been looking for such an opportunity.

But others argue that the fear for cyber related attacks are the major reasons for INSA tightening its presence in the business sector. The ultimate reason has got to do with the security of operating systems infrastructure of the financial sector. According to sources, INSA is closely monitoring cyber-related activities while hacking and malware tools have been getting more and more sophisticated. Back in February, the NBE issued orders to all banks and insurance companies to deploy operating security systems that monitor technical, physical and administrative facets.

Physically, financial institutions are obliged to install such devices as closed circuit television (CCTV) cameras and motion sensor technologies. In addition to that, technical guidelines require banks and insurance companies to install security measures to safeguard sensitive financial data from malicious and hacking attempts. That way, the agency tends to avoid possible loopholes and breaches.

Accordingly, INSA is solely tasked to deploy such undertakings, which require an outlay of USD 80 million to develop a secure data center across the financial sector. That said, the complaints against INSA further extend because IT equipment importers have their own concerns as well.

Sources also told The Reporter that for security reasons, specific IT equipment such as routers, network switches, servers and the like must pass clearance requirements put in place by INSA. However, lack of know-how and inefficiency in screening and controlling of the imported equipment have created havoc.

It is to be recalled that INSA has seized such operations for undisclosed reasons. Resuming the procedures still made importers disgruntled by the sluggish handling, which could take up to two weeks to secure clearance. Efforts to reach INSA for comments have not been successful at press time.