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Research shows SA apathetic over IT security

By , ITWeb
South Africa , 03 Dec 2021

Ninety-seven percent of South African IT security professionals believe that the organisations they work for do not place sufficient emphasis on preparing and protecting their infrastructure to withstand a cyber security attack.

This is according to McAfee Enterprise and FireEye research titled Cybercrime in a Pandemic World: The Impact of COVID-19, which also found that 90% of these professionals feel that their industry has experienced an increase in cyber threats since the onset of COVID-19 in early 2020, with data breaches, malware attacks, and phishing scams being the three cyber risks seen to be most threatening.

Sixty-three percent of these professionals add that there should be more emphasis on employee training and awareness about cybersecurity issues, with 61% saying that there should be more resources allocated towards planning for how to efficiently respond to them.

“The research shows that South Africa’s cybersecurity teams and professionals understand their organisations’ weaknesses, and that they have identified the areas that need to be addressed for them to be able to do their jobs more productively,” says Carlo Bolzonello, country manager for McAfee Enterprise in South Africa.

“Creating awareness among team members, as well as training users to be on the lookout for suspicious emails and behaviours, is vitally important. An organisation can invest in the most stringent of security regimes, but its users can often become its Achilles’ Heel - it takes just one person to click on a malicious file or link, and the whole organisation can be compromised,” he says.

This is particularly true in a post-COVID-19-lockdown period, when as many as 41% of South Africans intend to work from locations other than their office in the future, 10% of those remote workers taking no specific measures to secure their connections to the internet, and a further three percent admitting that they didn’t know how to even begin the process of implementing a security solution.

The research revealed that 40% of South African organisations had upgraded their cybersecurity solutions over the last 18 months independently, while 55% of those that had completed an upgrade did so with the help of a cybersecurity vendor.

“With four in ten local companies choosing to specify their own combination of cloud security, advanced threat security, endpoint security, and mobile security solutions, many are doing so by trusting the security solutions provided by their web services or data centre service providers, and in turn, have a false sense of security about the extent of their true protection,” Bolzonello says.

“These platform-owned security solutions are not those vendors’ core business, which means that they are less likely to have the insight and experience of a specialist security provider. Some level of protection is certainly better than having no protection at all, but a security solution provided by a web or datacentre service platform cannot compete – or provide the same level of security and peace of mind – that a specialist vendor can.

“Similarly, if an organisation does fall prey to a malware attack, it is the specialists who are going to be best equipped to stop the spread of the attack, isolate its cause, and address it appropriately to minimise loss to the business. Without this speciality in place, waiting for an inadequately equipped vendor’s response is likely to cost a vulnerable business even more,” he adds.

Having a plan in place to address security breaches is vital for any organisation, Bolzonello explains, adding that it should be treated with even more gravity than a building’s emergency and evacuation strategies.

Bolzonello advises that in-depth scenario planning activities are carried out regularly to ensure that all possible responses are prepared for, as a vital practice for surviving a cybersecurity attack.

“It’s all very well having the best tools in the business, but if you haven’t read the user’s manual or practiced what to do in an attack scenario, including communicating to affected stakeholders, chaos will ensue,” Bolzonello warns. “Avoiding this will protect your brand’s reputation among key stakeholders, too.”

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