A new Cybersecurity Bill is coming into effect later this year which aims to stop cybercrime and improve security for South Africans. SEAN DUFFY, Security Executive at Dimension Data Middle East & Africa, explains the basics of the bill.
A proposed new Cybercrimes and Cybersecurity Bill (Cybercrimes Bill) aims to stop cybercrime and to improve security for South African citizens. A draft of the Cybercrimes Bill was first released for public comment in August 2015, and submissions closed in December. The Bill is due to be presented to Parliament later this year.
Who is affected?
The Cybercrimes Bill affects everyone using a computer or the Internet, or anyone who owns an information infrastructure that could be declared critical. Among others, the following individuals and organisations should take note: ordinary South African citizens or employees using the Internet, network service providers, providers of software and hardware tools, financial services providers (the Bill includes prohibited financial transactions), representatives from government departments, those involved with IT regulatory compliance, as well as information security experts.
What are the offences and penalties?
The Cybercrimes Bill consolidates South Africa’s cybercrime laws, which makes successful prosecution of criminals more likely. Up until now, cyber offences were charged under various acts, among others the Prevention of Organised Crime Act, and the Electronic Communications and Transactions (ECT) Act of 2002. The ECT Act seemed to govern most online crime, but only included three cybercrime offences.
The Cybercrimes Bill defines over 50 new offences, and imposes penalties. Some of the offences detailed in the Cybercrimes Bill relate to the following:
· accessing personal data or interception or interference of data
· use of hardware, software and computer systems to commit offences
· acquisition, possession and provision, or receipt or use of passwords, access codes or similar data or devices
· prohibited financial transactions
· dissemination of data or messages which advocate, promote or incite hate, discrimination or violence
· copyright infringement
· computer-related offences pertaining to terrorist activity such as espionage, unlawful access to restricted data, as well as extortion (which includes unlawful acts in respect of malware pirates, fraud and forgery)
Penalties on conviction are quite severe. Penalties include fines of R 1 – R 10 million and imprisonment of one to ten years, depending on the severity of the offence. The nature of the crime determines the penalty.
The law also imposes obligations on electronic communications service providers, such as mobile networks, Internet service providers, and financial institutions, regarding aspects which may impact on cybersecurity. The Cybercrimes Bill is very specific in obligating these institutions to take steps in preventing cybercrime to protect consumers. It also imposes a fine of R 10 000 a day on organisations that fail to comply with the stipulations in the Cybercrimes Bill.
The Cybercrimes Bill regulates the powers to investigate, as well as aspects of international cooperation. The Bill also provides for the establishment of a 24/7 point of contact and various structures to deal with cyber security.
Gear up for the final law
Incidents will happen, but it’s how an organisation responds that matters. Government is working on establishing a legal mechanism for anyone to defend themselves against cybercrime. However, organisations need to be more proactive in their security through the use of services such incident response plans, real-time threat management, vulnerability management and managed security services.
“The Cybercrimes Bill provides legal backing for anyone to defend themselves in law against cybercrime.”
Money talks and electronic gaming evolves
Computer gaming has evolved dramatically in the last two years, as it follows the money, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK in the second of a two-part series.
The clue that gaming has become big business in South Africa was delivered by a non-gaming brand. When Comic Con, an American popular culture convention that has become a mecca for comics enthusiasts, was hosted in South Arica for the first time last month, it used gaming as the major drawcard. More than 45 000 people attended.
The event and its attendance was expected to be a major dampener for the annual rAge gaming expo, which took place just weeks later. Instead, rAge saw only a marginal fall in visitor numbers. No less than 34 000 people descended on the Ticketpro Dome for the chaos of cosplay, LAN gaming, virtual reality, board gaming and new video games.
It proved not only that there was room for more than one major gaming event, but also that a massive market exists for the sector in South Africa. And with a large market, one also found numerous gaming niches that either emerged afresh or will keep going over the years. One of these, LAN (for Local Area Network) gaming, which sees hordes of players camping out at the venue for three days to play each other on elaborate computer rigs, was back as strong as ever at rAge.
MWeb provided an 8Gbps line to the expo, to connect all these gamers, and recorded 120TB in downloads and 15Tb in uploads – a total that would have used up the entire country’s bandwidth a few years ago.
“LANs are supposed to be a thing of the past, yet we buck the trend each year,” says Michael James, senior project manager and owner of rAge. “It is more of a spectacle than a simple LAN, so I can understand.”
New phenomena, often associated with the flavour of the moment, also emerge every year.
“Fortnite is a good example this year of how we evolve,” says James. “It’s a crazy huge phenomenon and nobody was servicing the demand from a tournament point of view. So rAge and Xbox created a casual LAN tournament that anyone could enter and win a prize. I think the top 10 people got something each round.”
Read on to see how esports is starting to make an impact in gaming.
Blockchain is generally associated with Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, but these are just the tip of the iceberg, says ESET Southern Africa.
This technology was originally conceived in 1991, when Stuart Haber and W. Scott Stornetta described their first work on a chain of cryptographically secured blocks, but only gained notoriety in 2008, when it became popular with the arrival of Bitcoin. It is currently gaining demand in other commercial applications and its annual growth is expected to reach 51% by 2022 in numerous markets, such as those of financial institutions and the Internet of Things (IoT), according to MarketWatch.
What is blockchain?
A blockchain is a unique, consensual record that is distributed over multiple network nodes. In the case of cryptocurrencies, think of it as the accounting ledger where each transaction is recorded.
A blockchain transaction is complex and can be difficult to understand if you delve into the inner details of how it works, but the basic idea is simple to follow.
Each block stores:
– A number of valid records or transactions.
– Information referring to that block.
– A link to the previous block and next block through the hash of each block—a unique code that can be thought of as the block’s fingerprint.
Accordingly, each block has a specific and immovable place within the chain, since each block contains information from the hash of the previous block. The entire chain is stored in each network node that makes up the blockchain, so an exact copy of the chain is stored in all network participants.
As new records are created, they are first verified and validated by the network nodes and then added to a new block that is linked to the chain.
How is blockchain so secure?
Being a distributed technology in which each network node stores an exact copy of the chain, the availability of the information is guaranteed at all times. So if an attacker wanted to cause a denial-of-service attack, they would have to annul all network nodes since it only takes one node to be operative for the information to be available.
Besides that, since each record is consensual, and all nodes contain the same information, it is almost impossible to alter it, ensuring its integrity. If an attacker wanted to modify the information in a blockchain, they would have to modify the entire chain in at least 51% of the nodes.
In blockchain, data is distributed across all network nodes. With no central node, all participate equally, storing, and validating all information. It is a very powerful tool for transmitting and storing information in a reliable way; a decentralised model in which the information belongs to us, since we do not need a company to provide the service.
What else can blockchain be used for?
Essentially, blockchain can be used to store any type of information that must be kept intact and remain available in a secure, decentralised and cheaper way than through intermediaries. Moreover, since the information stored is encrypted, its confidentiality can be guaranteed, as only those who have the encryption key can access it.
Use of blockchain in healthcare
Health records could be consolidated and stored in blockchain, for instance. This would mean that the medical history of each patient would be safe and, at the same time, available to each doctor authorised, regardless of the health centre where the patient was treated. Even the pharmaceutical industry could use this technology to verify medicines and prevent counterfeiting.
Use of blockchain for documents
Blockchain would also be very useful for managing digital assets and documentation. Up to now, the problem with digital is that everything is easy to copy, but Blockchain allows you to record purchases, deeds, documents, or any other type of online asset without them being falsified.
Other blockchain uses
This technology could also revolutionise the Internet of Things (IoT) market where the challenge lies in the millions of devices connected to the internet that must be managed by the supplier companies. In a few years’ time, the centralised model won’t be able to support so many devices, not to mention the fact that many of these are not secure enough. With blockchain, devices can communicate through the network directly, safely, and reliably with no need for intermediaries.
Blockchain allows you to verify, validate, track, and store all types of information, from digital certificates, democratic voting systems, logistics and messaging services, to intelligent contracts and, of course, money and financial transactions.
Without doubt, blockchain has turned the immutable and decentralized layer the internet has always dreamed about into a reality. This technology takes reliance out of the equation and replaces it with mathematical fact.