Cybertheft: Are South Africans sufficiently protected by legislation?


Are South Africans sufficiently protected by legislation?

It is a little known fact that only 28 countries in the world have a cyber security policy in place. South Africa is one of them, but its policy is heavily criticised.

Prof Basie von Solms, director of the Centre for Cyber Security at the University of Johannesburg, says a single point of contact is needed for cyber security in the South African government. “The African Union convention shows South Africa is far behind as far as cyber security is concerned. Government and private sector must work together to cyber secure South Africa.”

Is it all doom and gloom?

There are those that believe that we can win. Hacktavist-turned-security-expert and Gigaom Research analyst, as well as recent TED Talk speaker, Keren Elazari, says the answer lies in decentralising the current systems.

“When it comes to the global financial ecosystem we are at a massive shift point, moving from traditional 20th century finance that is centralised to a new financial world with micro payments, digital payments, digital wallets, crypto currencies and other forms of payments.”

Ms Elazari is convinced that as this change occurs it will empower small companies and individuals to have a bigger say in their own cyber security.

Mustapha Zaouini, CEO of payments company PayU, explains that as payment ecosystems develop, the threat of attack from unsuspecting sources such as third parties will increase.

“It is going to get very complicated for the ordinary business to keep track of all the innovation to thwart cybercrime. So it is vital that basic security measure are in place and that online companies keep things as simple as possible. We have seen this among our small- to medium-sized merchants. The more aware you are of the risks, the more secure your online assets will be. Vigilance is key.”

According to Mr van Solms, small businesses are reported to be the largest growth area for cyber attacks, adding 31% of all attacks targeted small businesses, as they are less prepared to handle cyber risks. Another reason to use providers who are credible.

“Our payment systems are secure in South Africa, however, security is a culture that needs to be integrated into our daily lives. This applies to small and large companies as well as individuals and starts with password management,” says Mr Zaouini.

This year’s Security Summit highlighted that while tenacious attackers and equally dedicated IT security companies compete for the latest technological dominance, all we can do is play our part with common sense when it comes to privacy and online security.

Click here to view the ACCA report on cyber-theft.


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