The POPI legislation ensures that companies of all sizes around South Africa need to implement measures to better secure their customer’s personal details. For many SMEs, this can be quite a headache and rather costly. DARYL BLUNDELL, GM of Sage Pastel outlines a few steps that will help companies become POPI compliant.
As if you needed something new to worry about, a piece of legislation called the Protection of Personal Information (POPI) recently came into effect in South Africa. This data privacy law means that it’s more important than ever for you to ensure that your data and information systems are secure from breaches and leaks.
POPI essentially seeks to protect people’s privacy by regulating the ways in which their personal information is stored, managed and processed. In addition to complying with a range of rules that govern how you obtain and use customers’ personal information, you also need to take reasonable steps to secure it. You might face a fine if this data is stolen or leaked.
Personal information includes employee and customer data such as cellphone numbers, ID numbers, and personal addresses.
Preparing your business
If you have not started doing so already, now is the time to align your data security policy with the criteria of the Act. Here is a step-by-step guide:
· Identify existing customer information and who has access to it.
· Review the processes through which you collect and process personal information.
The information you collected and stored before POPI is also subject to the new Act, so it might be necessary to securely discard it if you cannot migrate it onto technology platforms that meet the law’s requirements. In practice, your core business solutions probably keep customer data in well-identified locations such as structured databases, so it is relatively easy to meet the POPI Act’s requirement to “apply reasonable security measures” to safeguard the information.
This would include common sense rules such as protecting customer data with strong passwords and encryption, and restricting access to the most sensitive data to the people who need it. Managing unstructured information such as call centre voice logs, Word documents, and paper-based documentation might be more challenging.
Keep it in the cloud
One way to handle POPI is to use cloud applications provided by a reputable service provider. Most major service providers and software companies will already have data security standards and technology in place that meets POPI’s needs.
This is more secure and usually cheaper than trying to handle all the information security yourself – a good provider will have strong encryption, high-end firewalls, and other solutions in place. But be sure to ask each provider about compliance and look carefully at how your providers based in other countries manage and secure your data.
The biggest challenges will be around culture, company policy, and end-user behaviour, since the enabling technology is fairly simple to implement. The challenge isn’t encrypting data or enforcing strong passwords, but getting your employees to understand why they need to follow security policies that may seem annoying and time-consuming.
Earth 2050: memory chips for kids, telepathy for adults
An astonishing set of predictions for the next 30 years includes a major challenge to the privacy of our thoughts.
By 2050, most kids may be fitted with the latest memory boosting implants, and adults will have replaced mobile devices with direct connectivity through brain implants, powered by thought.
These are some of the more dramatic forecasts in Earth 2050, an award-winning, interactive multimedia project that accumulates predictions about social and technological developments for the upcoming 30 years. The aim is to identify global challenges for humanity and possible ways of solving these challenges. The website was launched in 2017 to mark Kaspersky Lab’s 20th birthday. It comprises a rich variety of predictions and future scenarios, covering a wide range of topics.
Recently a number of new contributions have been added to the site. Among them Lord Martin Rees, the UK’s Astronomer Royal, Professor at Cambridge University and former President of the Royal Society; investor and entrepreneur Steven Hoffman, Peter Tatchell, human rights campaigner, along withDmitry Galov, security researcher and Alexey Malanov, malware analyst at Kaspersky Lab.
The new visions for 2050 consider, among other things:
- The replacement of mobile devices with direct connectivity through brain implants, powered by thought – able to upload skills and knowledge in return – and the impact of this on individual consciousness and privacy of thought.
- The ability to transform all life at the genetic level through gene editing.
- The potential impact of mistakes made by advanced machine-learning systems/AI.
- The demise of current political systems and the rise of ‘citizen governments’, where ordinary people are co-opted to approve legislation.
- The end of the techno-industrial age as the world runs out of fossil fuels, leading to economic and environmental devastation.
- The end of industrial-scale meat production, as most people become vegan and meat is cultured from biopsies taken from living, outdoor reared livestock.
The hypothetical prediction for 2050 from Dmitry Galov, security researcher at Kaspersky Lab is as follows: “By 2050, our knowledge of how the brain works, and our ability to enhance or repair it is so advanced that being able to remember everything and learn new things at an outrageous speed has become commonplace. Most kids are fitted with the latest memory boosting implants to support their learning and this makes education easier than it has ever been.
“Brain damage as a result of head injury is easily repaired; memory loss is no longer a medical condition, and people suffering from mental illnesses, such as depression, are quickly cured. The technologies that underpin this have existed in some form since the late 2010s. Memory implants are in fact a natural progression from the connected deep brain stimulation implants of 2018.
“But every technology has another side – a dark side. In 2050, the medical, social and economic impact of memory boosting implants are significant, but they are also vulnerable to exploitation and cyber-abuse. New threats that have appeared in the last decade include the mass manipulation of groups through implanted or erased memories of political events or conflicts, and even the creation of ‘human botnets’.
“These botnets connect people’s brains into a network of agents controlled and operated by cybercriminals, without the knowledge of the victims themselves. Repurposed cyberthreats from previous decades are targeting the memories of world leaders for cyber-espionage, as well as those of celebrities, ordinary people and businesses with the aim of memory theft, deletion of or ‘locking’ of memories (for example, in return for a ransom).
“This landscape is only possible because, in the late 2010s when the technologies began to evolve, the potential future security vulnerabilities were not considered a priority, and the various players: healthcare, security, policy makers and more, didn’t come together to understand and address future risks.”
For more information and the full suite of inspirational and thought-provoking predictions, visit Earth 2050.
How load-shedding is killing our cellphone signals
Extensive load-shedding, combined with the theft of cell tower backup batteries and copper wire, is placing a massive strain on mobile network providers.
MTN says the majority of MTN’S sites have been equipped with battery backup systems to ensure there is enough power on site to run the system for several hours when local power goes out and the mains go down.
“With power outages on the rise, these back-up systems become imperative to keeping South Africa connected and MTN has invested heavily in generators and backup batteries to maintain communication for customers, despite the lack of electrical power,” the operator said in a statement today.
However, according to Jacqui O’Sullivan, Executive: Corporate Affairs, at MTN SA, “The high frequency of the cycles of load shedding
An additional challenge is that criminals and criminal syndicates are placing networks across the country at risk. Batteries, which can cost R28 000 per battery and upwards, are sought after on black markets – especially in neighbouring countries.
“Although MTN has improved security and is making strides in limiting instances of theft and vandalism with the assistance of the police, the increase in power outages has made this issue even more pressing,” says O’Sullivan.
Ernest Paul, General Manager: Network Operations at SA’s leading network provider MTN, says the brazen theft of batteries is an industry-wide problem and will require a broader initiative driven by communities, the private sector, police and prosecutors to bring it to a halt.
“Apart from the cost of replacing the stolen batteries and upgrading the broken infrastructure, communities suffer as the network degrades without the back-up power. This is due to the fact that any coverage gaps need to be filled. The situation is even more dire with the rolling power cuts expected due to Eskom load shedding.”
Loss of services and network quality can range from a 2-5km radius to 15km on some sites and affect 5,000 to 20,000 people. On hub sites, network coverage to entire suburbs and regions can be lost.
Click here to read more about efforts to combat copper theft.