Is the SA government taking the necessary steps to protect our Cyberspace?

28 Jun

As the world’s largest Crime Zone the need for South Africa to implement cyber security measures and legislation has become ever more apparent.

According to industry experts, unlike various international destinations, South Africa and other such developing nations have limited to non-existent cyber security laws, and that of course presents various problems. Access to the Internet is essential to the development of the country, but the ease of access and how much danger it poses to security doesn’t go unnoticed. As cyber crime increases daily, it is obvious that SA and similar countries need to develop and implement comprehensive cyber security laws.

According to Lexology, a company that collaborates with the world’s leading lawyers; South African cyber security is regulated by means of the Electronic Communications & Transactions Act, No 25 of 2002 (ECTA). As the Internet is considered a world-wide phenomenon that is unfortunately riddled with cyber crime, many steps have been initiated by the SA government to ensure cyber security is taken seriously.

The National Cyber Security Policy Framework

Published and approved by the Cabinet in 2012, this policy details SA’s strategy in terms of:

  • Cyber crime
  • National security threats online
  • Overcoming cyber warfare
  • Updating and implementing of applicable laws to ensure ultimate cyber security

Other laws, legislation, councils and legal documents that dictate cyber law in South Africa include:

  • National Cyber Security Advisory Council – advising government authorities on cyber related security concerns.
  • ICT Policy Green Paper – this paper identified cyber crime threats and issues needing to be addressed with laws and policies.
  • Protection of Personal Information Act, No 4 of 2013 – this particular act is soon to be affected in SA. It is designed to step up data security standards by implementing laws regarding the processing of personal information and by ensuring that data processors work with these laws in mind to safeguard against a data breach.

In an attempt to address the spans of criminal activities that are experienced every day online, the Draft Cybercrimes and Cyber Security Bill was set in place in 2015 for comment. This particular bill criminalises the following cyber crimes:

  • The use of another individual’s personal information to commit an offense.
  • Gaining illegal access to data.
  • Having or distributing malware, viruses, worms and similar.
  • Online fraud where non-existent goods are sold.
  • Manipulation of documents for the intent of forgery.
  • Sending phishing emails or being involved in phishing activities
  • Using a computer system, hardware or software to commit a criminal offense.
  • Money laundering.
  • Illegal computerised appropriation of ownership or rights.
  • Digital / computerised extortion.
  • Digital terrorist activity as well as the recruitment of terrorist members, or providing information on how to create terrorist weapons or carry out attacks.
  • Hacking, social engineering and the use of software and hardware to carry out computer related espionage.
  • Data messages that encourage hatred, violence or discrimination. This includes media posts against specific religions, ethnicities, genders, sexual orientations and so forth.
  • Copyright infringements including peer-to-peer file sharing which can infringe on various copyrights.

A brief look at a summary of the Bill illustrates just how active the cybercrime world really is. If and when the Bill is implemented, offenders will be faced with fines of between R5 million and R10 million. Alternatively, a prison sentence of 25 years can be expected.

At Soteria Cloud we understand the importance of the implementation of this Bill and the awareness it creates around cybercrime. We would love to know what your thoughts on cyber security in SA are – please share them with us!

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