Is the heart of democracy really data security? You decide!

4 Feb

When experts in the field of data security start saying things that imply military systems can be easily hacked, one starts to realise just how vulnerable we are to cyber criminals.

Unfortunately, the opportunity for cyber criminals abounds as their skills seem to surpass the expertise and efforts of the world’s cybersecurity pros. It’s not just a fighter jet being hacked and taken control of by opportunistic terrorists that one should fear though. Hacking and cybercrime can go beyond even the threat of a skyjacked jet and have an effect on entire nations on a global basis.

Suppose a hacker was to breach the security protecting the national tax collection system? Such an act could cripple the economy and leave millions starving. And this is just the start to the type of terror that online crime can result in.

Just how resilient is South Africa’s cyber security?

South Africa, and the world seem to be have been up in arms last year with data and security breaches abounding at every turn. The importance of highly-effective cybersecurity policies in the public sector is an area that has been highlighted.

The main objective is (and should be) to protect public institutions from falling prey to disruptions and the pillaging of cyber criminals. A call to protect the following public institutions has been heard, and the government will have to do something about it if they want stakeholders to feel more confident:

  • Revenue collection
  • Military defence
  • Freight handling
  • Social grant distribution

As the country, and the world seamlessly merges into new technology, the worry that essential public and government services will be faced with cybercrime related havoc increases. Just because South Africa is developing in terms of technology and the IoT (Internet of Things) a bit slower than its peers, doesn’t mean that it has escaped the risk. The risks are the same…and they are looming!

The South African Government Takes Cyber Security Risks to Heart

The South African government seems to have come to the party in this instance and appears to be taking a serious interest in the cyber security of its systems and people.

The Department of Telecommunications and Postal Services has set up the Cybersecurity Hub, which is designed to create a greater awareness of cyber risks and help South African’s share information regarding cybercriminal activity.

Educating the people of South Africa about cybercrime and the risks (and what to do) is probably the first step that the SA government should take. A security system is after all, only as strong as its weakest link. And if people aren’t aware or don’t understand the risks, they are indeed a weak link!

Cyber Security is Everyone’s Responsibility, for the Sake of Our Democracy

If democracy is important to South Africa and its people, surely educating the hundreds and thousands of employees and the public sector about the reality of cybersecurity – and how to play a part in preventing it, should be a major focus? By educating the public, the country can ensure that service delivery and essential services never fail its people, because everyone is doing their bit to protect the democratic lifestyle that we so love and value.

Of course, it’s not just the government’s responsibility. Businesses should be training their employees and ensuring that they have knowledge of risks and defence strategies when it comes to cybersecurity.

Where we are Failing

Recent surveys have shown that a whopping 1/3rd of the world’s public sector companies say that they aren’t sure their employees are able to identify an identity impersonation in action or a phishing scam unravelling. A further worrying statistic showed that even though these companies are doubtful of their staff members’ abilities, only 14% of them provide training on the different types of cyber threats and how to avoid becoming a victim!

How government and public sector companies can do more:

  • Provide ongoing awareness training to increase knowledge and insight into cybercrime.
  • Be proactive rather than reactive by ensuring that effective cyber security measures are in place (instead of only scrambling to find cyber security solutions when an incident occurs).
  • Design and implement plans and processes to keep emails and business operations up and running, even in the midst of a cyber-attack.
  • Make sure that data can be recovered after a security breach. Cloud backups are often a viable solution here.

For an ongoing, beneficial South African democracy, it seems that more care must be taken to involve the people of the country in the overall cyber-security efforts. Education is the starting point and implementing the correct processes and procedures should be a main objective for all.

Need some advice on how to play your part in protecting yourself, the company you work for, and others from cybercrime that threatens our democracy? Get in touch with us or consider our data backup packages today.

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