A recent presidential directive that an anti-fraud police unit be set up within Sacco Societies Regulatory Authority (SASRA) can best be described as a stich in time for a sector that is already bleeding profusely due to the action of a network of financial fraudsters, hackers and unscrupulous insiders.
While a growing number of DT Saccos, with huge balance sheets, deposits and membership are busy upgrading their IT platforms to shut out cyber criminals, these sleuths at SASRA will assist in arrest and conviction of suspected criminals who steal from gullible Saccos.
Although cash and assets are lost and co-operative societies shut, few if any culprits, are ever handcuffed and brought to court. Court cases drag on for years on end while members suffer irreparable pecuniary damage.
This crack police unit at SASRA will only nab crooks in these societies if they equally invest heavily in IT to enhance data security and integrity.
Saccos should be able to vet all third parties involved in system integration before engaging them. This can be achieved through referrals and searching the history of such IT firms before awarding any contracts.
It is usually assumed by many managers in the Sacco business that the reason their business is subject to attacks from electronic thugs is perhaps because of their outdated systems and infrastructure.
Although almost all DT Saccos have a mobile banking App for its members, it is on this platform that cyber criminals are also having a free hunting spree, picking their victims at will and with ease.
Saccos are well advised that while it is okay to have advanced solutions to deal with electronic crime, there is need to consider some basics.
For instance, there is need for Saccos to ensure that they control who has access to their IT systems and that those who are authorized are given specific passwords and user names.
The Sacco should also cut off its links completely with former staff members as well as vendors of the platform- a link that definitely has insider information that could be used to compromise the system.
Having the right kind of people in a Sacco that is also working as a team of highly integral managers and staff will not work in an organization that has poor governance structure-made up of managers who cannot make independent decisions and are instead held hostage by the Board.