Ransomware threatens over 50% of South African businesses
More than half of South African businesses were impacted by ransomware in 2022, according to a CSIR report on cybersecurity. If businesses don't implement adequate cybersecurity strategies, this percentage will increase as the country's reliance on digital technologies and the number of associated threats expand.
Weak passwords, outdated or unpatched software, phishing attacks, and SQL injection attacks are the easiest ways for hackers to gain access to an organization's digital data.
Even though cyber-attacks cost the South African economy R2.2 billion per year, these vulnerabilities are often not understood or tested, with most business decision makers only acting after an attack has occurred.
Surfsharks’s 2023 Cybersecurity Report showed that South Africa is the 8 most-targeted country in the world for ransomware attacks and it ranks 5 on the global cybercrime density list - with the onslaught of attacks only set to increase.
“The difference between being one of the most-targeted and one of the worst-affected lies in the preparation for attacks, “ says Kevin Wotshela, Managing Director of Magix, a leading South African based cyber security and compliance service.
“Penetration Testing, Vulnerability Assessments, XDR, User Awareness Training, Third-Party Risk Management and Identity & Access Management are crucial components of a comprehensive cybersecurity strategy for corporations – all of which need to be examined in detail, regularly to prevent cyberattacks and minimise the impact in the event that a system is breached”. Wotshela adds.
The VEEAM 2023 Data Protection Trends Report showed that while analysts forecasted growth in overall IT spending for 2023 between 4.5% and 5.4%, respondents expected their preventative cyber security budgets to grow by 5.6% and their data protection (remediation) budgets to grow by 5.5% in 2023.
Wotshela says that spending needs to outpace the growth of cybersecurity threats by a significantly higher factor. “85% of respondents to the report suffered at least one cyberattack in 2022 – an increase of 76% from the previous year – and the problem is only going to grow exponentially,” he says.
There are several key interventions companies of all sizes can proactively run to better secure their systems from a cyberattack:
- Penetration Testing and Vulnerability Assessments help identify vulnerabilities and weaknesses in the organization's systems, networks, and applications. By conducting regular assessments, organizations can proactively identify and address security flaws before they can be exploited by attackers.
- XDR (Threat Detection and Response) solutions enable organizations to detect and respond to advanced threats across multiple security domains, such as endpoints, networks, and cloud environments. By integrating and correlating data from various sources, organizations can gain better visibility into potential security incidents and respond promptly to mitigate risks.
- User Awareness Training is vital to educate employees about cybersecurity best practices, such as recognizing phishing emails, using strong passwords, and being cautious while handling sensitive data. Well-trained employees are less likely to fall victim to social engineering attacks and can act as an additional layer of defence against cyber threats.
- Third-party risk management is essential, because organizations often rely on external vendors, suppliers, or service providers who may have access to their systems or data. By assessing the security practices of third parties, organizations can identify potential risks and take appropriate measures to mitigate them, reducing the likelihood of a security breach originating from third-party relationships.
- Identity & Access management (IAM) helps ensure that only authorized individuals have access to the organization's resources. By implementing IAM practices, corporations can enforce strong authentication mechanisms, manage user roles and permissions, and streamline the user lifecycle management process. This reduces the risk of unauthorized access and improves overall security posture.
While 87%of organizations surveyed for the VEEAM report said they have a risk management program that drives their security roadmap or strategy, only 35%believe their program is working well, while 52%are seeking to improve their situation and the remaining 13%do not yet even have an established program.
“The global percentages are too high – and they’re even higher in South Africa” says Wotshela.
“Data show that we have the highest rate of business email compromise on the African continent. Improving resilience against cyber threats requires significant enhancements in each of these important components, which must then be regularly policed to the highest level.
In doing so, businesses of all sizes can enhance their resilience against cyber threats, protect sensitive data, maintain regulatory compliance and safeguard their reputation.”
“Essentially, effective cybersecurity measures demonstrate a commitment to maintaining a strong security posture and helps build trust among customers, partners, and stakeholders.”