Just under half of the companies surveyed in South Africa and the Middle East said they detected 50 or more threats in the last year. BRENDAN MCARAVEY, Country Manager, Citrix South Africa provides some tips on how to keep up with the cybercrime world.
In the recent PricewaterhouseCoopers’ Global State of Information Security Survey 2016, 41.44% of companies in South Africa and the Middle East reported that they had detected 50 or more cybersecurity incidents in the past 12 months. This was in comparison to the global total of 31.59%. A further 17.47% of South African and Middle Eastern companies had identified between 10 and 49 threats in the same time period.
These statistics are indicative of a constantly evolving beast – today’s information security landscape. As attack vectors continue to grow, assaults become more frequent and attackers become even more sophisticated. The need to continually adapt to an increasingly hostile environment has resulted in a significant change from the familiar security measures that kept us “comfortable” a mere five years ago. Although these measures are still valid, the reality is that they are nowhere near sufficient to combat the dangers of today’s increasingly complex threats.
Here are seven recommendations to help you keep up with the rapid pace of change in cybersecurity:
1. Say goodbye to generic “best practices” security
Compliance is not a security programme – it’s a starting point. Any organisation that is still just ticking the boxes on their audit report is getting breached. Have this conversation in the boardroom and use it to drive the culture towards security that is specifically tailored to the business.
2. Patching is a daily event
Flaws in applications, services such as DNS and foundational software, including OpenSSL, mean that, unlike a few years ago, we can’t wait a month or more for patches. Ensure your organisation can respond with instant remediation across workstations, mobile, servers and clouds. Manage at the application level to respond without having to push new desktop images.
3. Security just got personal
Targeted attacks go after specific individuals with personalised messages and payloads from an apparently trusted source. It’s getting more and more difficult – even for security professionals – to differentiate the malignant from the benign. And the highly rare APT ups the ante when the attacker has found a truly valuable target. More education is necessary, but can only go so far. Hardening must reduce the default attack surface as much as possible, and containment strategies further sandbox attacks.
4. Breaches are to be expected
Formerly denied and only discussed in secret, breaches are now a reporting requirement for many organisations. A prescribed approach to incident management includes both technical and reputational responses. Containing breaches and their impact has been a deciding use case for app virtualisation across governments, healthcare and financial services. Virtualising all browser-based access is a leading practice for containing attacks against one of the most popular entry points for organisational breach.
5. End-to-end strong encryption is mandatory
Encryption is no longer just for networks and hard drives. Encryption must protect sensitive data within and between applications, from desktops to mobile. Criminals have also recognised the value of encryption, with ransomware leveraging encryption as a weapon. And, as the painful death of SSL has shown, outdated encryption can be as bad as no encryption at all. Ensure that you control encryption for endpoints through app and desktop virtualisation, on mobile devices with enterprise mobility management, and for cloud and web apps with an application delivery controller with embedded web app firewall.
6. Security begins with access
A deep knowledge of situational context is necessary to control identity, authentication, authorisation and access control. Focus on the 5Ws of Access for employees and non-employees – who needs access, what are they accessing and when, where do they need access from, and why do they require access. Use virtualisation to provide fine-grained access control for privileged users and to ensure that there is no direct access to sensitive data.
7. IT has competition
End users think they can do computing better themselves. And in some ways, they can. But not security. Ensure that Shadow IT, unsanctioned BYO and the use of consumer-grade apps, clouds and services for sensitive data are replaced with IT-controlled and sanctioned offerings. Simplify things for users by enabling single sign on, improving their access and automating a superior experience across devices.
This is by no means a prescriptive list. Information security teams should remain on guard at all times and aim to stay one step ahead of those who will take advantage of any negligence or ignorance. Nobody can afford to stand still. Attack vectors and exploitation methods will increase alarmingly, as more devices, people and locations become connected. And, as IoT becomes more of a reality, the need for sophisticated cybersecurity will increase exponentially. It’s time to keep watch, with both eyes open.
VoD cuts the cord in SA
Some 20% of South Africans who sign up for a subscription video on demand (SVOD) service such as Netflix or Showmax do so with the intention of cancelling their pay television subscription.
That’s according to GfK’s international ViewScape survey*, which this year covers Africa (South Africa, Kenya and Nigeria) for the first time.
The study—which surveyed 1,250 people representative of urban South African adults with Internet access—shows that 90% of the country’s online adults today use at least one online video service and that just over half are paying to view digital online content. The average user spends around 7 hours and two minutes a day consuming video content, with broadcast television accounting for just 42% of the time South Africans spend in front of a screen.
Consumers in South Africa spend nearly as much of their daily viewing time – 39% of the total – watching free digital video sources such as YouTube and Facebook as they do on linear television. People aged 18 to 24 years spend more than eight hours a day watching video content as they tend to spend more time with free digital video than people above their age.
Says Benjamin Ballensiefen, managing director for Sub Sahara Africa at GfK: “The media industry is experiencing a revolution as digital platforms transform viewers’ video consumption behaviour. The GfK ViewScape study is one of the first to not only examine broadcast television consumption in Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa, but also to quantify how linear and online forms of content distribution fit together in the dynamic world of video consumption.”
The study finds that just over a third of South African adults are using streaming video on demand (SVOD) services, with only 16% of SVOD users subscribing to multiple services. Around 23% use per-pay-view platforms such as DSTV Box Office, while about 10% download pirated content from the Internet. Around 82% still sometimes watch content on disc-based media.
“Linear and non-linear television both play significant roles in South Africa’s video landscape, though disruption from digital players poses a growing threat to the incumbents,” says Molemo Moahloli, general manager for media research & regional business development at GfK Sub Sahara Africa. “Among most demographics, usage of paid online content is incremental to consumption of linear television, but there are signs that younger consumers are beginning to substitute SVOD for pay-television subscriptions.”
New data rules raise business trust challenges
When the General Data Protection Regulation comes into effect on May 25th, financial services firms will face a new potential threat to their on-going challenges with building strong customer relationships, writes DARREL ORSMOND, Financial Services Industry Head at SAP Africa.
The regulation – dubbed GDPR for short – is aimed at giving European citizens control back over their personal data. Any firm that creates, stores, manages or transfers personal information of an EU citizen can be held liable under the new regulation. Non-compliance is not an option: the fines are steep, with a maximum penalty of €20-million – or nearly R300-million – for transgressors.
GDPR marks a step toward improved individual rights over large corporates and states that prevents the latter from using and abusing personal information at their discretion. Considering the prevailing trust deficit – one global EY survey found that 60% of global consumers worry about hacking of bank accounts or bank cards, and 58% worry about the amount of personal and private data organisations have about them – the new regulation comes at an opportune time. But it is almost certain to cause disruption to normal business practices when implemented, and therein lies both a threat and an opportunity.
The fundamentals of trust
GDPR is set to tamper with two fundamental factors that can have a detrimental effect on the implicit trust between financial services providers and their customers: firstly, customers will suddenly be challenged to validate that what they thought companies were already doing – storing and managing their personal data in a manner that is respectful of their privacy – is actually happening. Secondly, the outbreak of stories relating to companies mistreating customer data or exposing customers due to security breaches will increase the chances that customers now seek tangible reassurance from their providers that their data is stored correctly.
The recent news of Facebook’s indiscriminate sharing of 50 million of its members’ personal data to an outside firm has not only led to public outcry but could cost the company $2-trillion in fines should the Federal Trade Commission choose to pursue the matter to its fullest extent. The matter of trust also extends beyond personal data: in EY’s 2016 Global Consumer Banking Survey, less than a third of respondents had complete trust that their banks were being transparent about fees and charges.
This is forcing companies to reconsider their role in building and maintaining trust with its customers. In any customer relationship, much is done based on implicit trust. A personal banking customer will enjoy a measure of familiarity that often provides them with some latitude – for example when applying for access to a new service or an overdraft facility – that can save them a lot of time and energy. Under GDPR and South Africa’s POPI act, this process is drastically complicated: banks may now be obliged to obtain permission to share customer data between different business units (for example because they are part of different legal entities and have not expressly received permission). A customer may now allow banks to use their personal data in risk scoring models, but prevent them from determining whether they qualify for private banking services.
What used to happen naturally within standard banking processes may be suddenly constrained by regulation, directly affecting the bank’s relationship with its customers, as well as its ability to upsell to existing customers.
The risk of compliance
Are we moving to an overly bureaucratic world where even the simplest action is subject to a string of onerous processes? Compliance officers are already embedded within every function in a typical financial services institution, as well as at management level. Often the reporting of risk processes sits outside formal line functions and end up going straight to the board. This can have a stifling effect on innovation, with potentially negative consequences for customer service.
A typical banking environment is already creaking under the weight of close to 100 acts, which makes it difficult to take the calculated risks needed to develop and launch innovative new banking products. Entire new industries could now emerge, focusing purely on the matter of compliance and associated litigation. GDPR already requires the services of Data Protection Officers, but the growing complexity of regulatory compliance could add a swathe of new job functions and disciplines. None of this points to the type of innovation that the modern titans of business are renowned for.
A three-step plan of action
So how must banks and other financial services firms respond? I would argue there are three main elements to successfully navigating the immediate impact of the new regulations:
Firstly, ensuring that the technologies you use to secure, manage and store personal data is sufficiently robust. Modern financial services providers have a wealth of customer data at their disposal, including unstructured data from non-traditional sources such as social media. The tools they use to process and safeguard this data needs to be able to withstand the threats posed by potential data breaches and malicious attacks.
Secondly, rethinking the core organisational processes governing their interactions with customers. This includes the internal measures for setting terms and conditions, how customers are informed of their intention to use their data, and how risk is assessed. A customer applying for medical insurance will disclose deeply personal information about themselves to the insurance provider: it is imperative the insurer provides reassurance that the customer’s data will be treated respectfully and with discretion and with their express permission.
Thirdly, financial services firms need to define a core set of principles for how they treat customers and what constitutes fair treatment. This should be an extension of a broader organisational focus on treating customers fairly, and can go some way to repairing the trust deficit between the financial services industry and the customers they serve.