Information technology experts have called for a multi-stakeholder approach to curb the prevalence of cyber crime in the Take of revelations South Africa is among the countries most targeted by such criminals.
According to findings from a survey an international security company carried out recently, South Africa is the third worst in the world when it comes to cybercrime attacks.
A study conducted last year also revealed that South Africa’s annual loss due to cybercrime is estimated at R2,65 billion (about US$188, 54 million).
According to Kaspersky Lab, the Russian-headquartered cyber security firm in an exclusive interview, the Southern African country suffered a 300 percent increase in cyber attacks to 81, 6 million over the past year.
This is in line with the significant uptake of the internet particularly the fiber to home internet offerings local telecommunications providers are offering to connect thousands of households.
The figures are absolutely shocking,” Amin Hasbini, a security researcher specializing on Middle East and Africa, said as he expressed alarm at the prevalence of cyber threats and crime in South Africa.
Veniamin Levstov, the Kaspersky Lab Vice President for Entreprise and Presales, believes the incidents would be lower had companies an householder internet users invested in internet security to shield themselves from the daring criminals.
As cyber threats are being reinvented daily to disable businesses, there is a view that South Africa is not taking information technology security seriously enough especially in the corporate space.
The haste of technological change is leaving South African corporates no alternative but to be proactive and to strengthen their IT security approaches, as any loopholes in technology systems were being targeted by cybercriminals at an increasing rate – especially as cybercriminals continue to become increasingly sophisticated in their cybercrime approaches, experts said.
“I have travelled a lot around the continent and I have noted that in South Africa, there is a clear focus on physical security where barriers are put in place to enhance security in the business and the home,” said the Russian-based technology cyber security expert.
“If as much investments could be allocated to internet security, the numbers could be lower. “This is more importantly so because just one crack in a user’s computer system can cause greater losses and much more damage than a robber can physically mete. The damage is huge. It is not limited only to Facebook or Twitter,” he added in an interview in Johannesburg.
The experts believe the corporate sector and government must collaborate to contain the menace of cyber crime. Suleiman Patel, the Acting Chief Information Officer at the Gauteng Department of Public Works, proposed the establishing of a National Cyber Crime and Security Centre and well as joint Centre for Excellence to thwart the intense war cyber criminals has taken to government and the corporate sector as well as individual technology users.
“Collaborations are the trend globally an there is no reason why we cannot collaborate in South Africa,” said Patel. He conceded there was some laxity in the adoption of cyber security technology in the country.
“Data is the new currency and we need to treat it as such. We need to take care of it the same way we secure our jewelry and other luxuries,” Patel proposed.
Hasbini said his organisation was partnering with local information and communications technology stakeholders to conduct awareness programmes around the issue of cyber espionage.
He said collaborations could play a key role in thwarting such crimes. Meanwhile, parents have been urged to play their part too.
This follows findings from a research by Kaspersky Lab that a significant number of South African parents were concerned their children were exposed to criminals online.
Research suggests 40 percent of parents are worried. “Being protective is a parental instinct but the online landscape is changing the rules,” said David Emm, Principal Security Researcher at Kaspersky Lab.
He said worryingly, only a fifth of parents took action to talk with the minors of online threats. “With a significant number of adults also worrying about the threats facing inexperienced older relatives online, particularly in the form of scams and malware, it is important that these parents under pressure have the software and support they need to keep their loved ones secure,” said Emm.
Author: Mthulisi Sibanda
Image: CAJ NEWS/Gift Ndolwane