By: Saurabh Kumar, MD at In2IT Technologies South Africa

Cyber security is a significant concern for South Africans. Since the advent of devices that connect to the Internet, there has been the risk that persons with malicious intent can access loopholes in security systems. This provides cyber criminals with the opportunity to commit data theft or carry out a destructive act like unleashing a virus or ransomware.

What has changed is the sheer number of devices that we have for business, personal and industrial use, all capable of connecting to the Internet. In the age of the Internet of Things (IoT), most devices are capable of being hacked, especially if they have an IP address. Therefore, protecting our device and networks are no longer optional, given that world we are living in is becoming increasingly networked and connected including everything from personal banking to government infrastructure.

More connectivity means more at risk

Due to the overwhelming number of devices connected to the Internet, there needs to be a change in the way people in general think about cyber security. While the IoT and machine-to-machine (M2M) technology are touted to deliver insight and enhance productivity, they introduce vulnerabilities and can be used as entry-points for cyber criminals.  Manufacturers of these IoT devices are simply not doing enough in terms of protection.

Hackers can exploit these devices to conduct data breaches, corporate or government espionage and damage critical infrastructure. Before any organisation can choose an appropriate cyber security solution provider, it’s important to be cognisant of what is at risk. Vulnerabilities must be identified, as well as external-facing devices secured. In addition, it must also be established what data needs protection (employee personal information, customer data etc.) and how to do so. Why is this so important? Trust is currency in today’s digital world and unless your customers can trust that their digital interactions with your business are secure, they will not conduct business with you.

Partner with a solution provider

When it comes to cyber protection and choosing a solution provider, it’s helpful to be aware of some common errors or misconceptions perpetuated in the industry in order to avoid them. A security solution provider must be able to draw a distinction between internal and external threats and must also be able to provide protection accordingly.

While it’s understood that many threats originate from an external source, the possibility that they are internal is far higher which makes it critical to implement an effective monitoring solution that protects the organisation from the outside as well as within. Furthermore, identifying and testing vulnerabilities is not an isolated once-off task, but rather something that must be undertaken continuously if prevention and protection measures are to remain current and effective.

Lastly, a cyber security policy is not enough to protect an organisation against cyber threats and as such it is important to ensure that security administration successfully deploys and enforces policy controls across the board. Even more so where an organisation has connectivity between offices that are spread across the country or globe. Security solution providers themselves need to realise that this is a constantly-evolving industry. As cybercrimes become faster and easier to commit, it’s essential for service providers to keep abreast of what is taking place across the globe in the cybercrime space by having threat intelligence built in as part of their security service practices. This will necessitate a move from a product-centric focus to a solution-centric focus for the customer, but will also mean that the service provider will be able to deliver monitoring and response that is intelligent and in tune with the customer’s needs.

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