Presented by Westcon-Comstor

Growing cyber threats in South Africa and what to do about them

It is estimated that the global number of Internet users is growing by an average of 1 million users a day. But more users, mean more threats to the overall security of businesses.

In fact, recent World Wide Worx research commissioned by Trend Micro and VMware regarding South African businesses cited that local cybercrime is still on the rise and more than a third (35%) of South African decision-makers expect an attack in days.

What’s worse is that many South African businesses still use legacy infrastructure and outdated security solutions, putting them at risk.

One of the biggest challenges to local businesses is that many threats have already infiltrated their business. But we are faced with a security skills dearth, and an abundance of outdated solutions.

South African businesses take security seriously, but many businesses’ hands are tied because of people, budget, and infrastructure constraints.

Cyber threats in South Africa versus the world

Some of the main cyber threats that South African business face include phishing, malware and ransomware. However, according to Westcon-Comstor, these threats are concerning to varying degrees.

While globally many of their vendor partners cite that malware threats are down, Westcon-Comstor still sees malware creeping into local business cases.

Other threats that are on the increase include business email compromise (BEC) and DDoS attacks on cloud service providers. And phishing and spoofing continually become more popular and more sophisticated in South Africa.

But by comparing research released globally and locally, we can see that the challenges are the same around the world.

“We all face the need for more and better security skills, there is still a problem with accountability, and outdated systems affects everyone,” said Linsay Narayanan Business Practice Lead, Westcon-Comstor Security Solutions: Sub-Saharan Africa.

Key technologies to futureproof your network

For this reason, Narayanan says security needs to be everywhere, and in everything. The network is no longer a static environment; it is elastic and pervasive, which is why merely putting firewalls on the entry point to the network is no longer an effective strategy.

“This is because teams have many devices connecting to multiple networks, and often work from different locations, increasing the possibility for them to open nefarious emails.

For this reason, businesses need to approach security like wrapping birthday presents for different family members sharing the same birthday. “Each present needs to be wrapped separately, and sometimes with different wrapping paper, no matter if the party is in one location or if you are driving around to different parties,” said Narayanan.

The same applies to your systems. “You can’t put all your systems in one security framework. You need to wrap security around the different areas in your business, based on the specific needs of that system.”

Safeguard against possible breaches, and stay POPI or GDPR compliant

In Westcon-Comstor’s experience the most effective security starts with the application. They also believe that security is no longer a point and shoot solution, the approach and procurement of security needs to change.

Instead of bolting on a new security solution every time there is a breach, Westcon-Comstor suggests selecting a few core vendors whose solutions are interoperable and identify where the key points in your business are. “You can then build your security from the application and the data outwards, adding effective layers of security that wrap around your business in order to create an environment that is harder to infiltrate,” said Narayanan.

In doing so, you will secure your network and comply with exactly what both POPI and GDPR stipulate.

What’s important is that you can’t secure what you can’t see, which is why better management of your security environment is critical.

With better management, you will have the visibility you need and ensure that you can manage disparate security solutions holistically. It also gives you the knowledge you need on the location of your customer’s data at any given point.

For more information on end-to-end solutions from Westcon-Comstor vendors Palo Alto Networks, F5, and Trend Micro, visit the Westcon website.

This article was published in partnership with Westcon-Comstor.

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Growing cyber threats in South Africa and what to do about them