By Clayton Naidoo, general manager for Cisco Southern Africa
Relentless cyber criminals are becoming smarter and more resourceful by the day. 2018 taught us many lessons and one of them is that companies cannot afford to develop business strategies without cybersecurity being at the heart of it. Many companies that became victims of cyber-attacks witnessed first-hand how difficult, time-consuming and expensive it is to recover from, if at all. Cybersecurity breaches can leave lasting damages not only to the company’s reputation, but its clients.
Let’s look at research in South Africa for a second. It recorded the third highest number of cybercrime victims worldwide and lost around R2.2 billion per year, according to the SA Banking Risk Information Centre, who released the information in June 2018. This continues to escalate so it is vital that businesses take preventative measures on a grand scale. Protecting the data of your clients, finances, corporate plans, and staff should be the most vital aspect of any business strategy in the digital economy.
The important questions to ask are – What happens if you have a great strategy to take the business forward but no cybersecurity measures to safeguard against hackers? What would you do if your business was hacked today? How would you recover if the personal information of your clients were leaked?
Cisco believes that businesses need to think critically about creating a winning approach that incorporates cybersecurity into the business strategy. In fact, businesses cannot afford to be without it.
The cost of cybercrime
The escalating number of cyber attacks (even on some of the most renowned companies) over the past few years paints the picture of ruthless cyber criminals working 24/7 to access your data through any means necessary.
The Official Annual Cybercrime Report from Cybersecurity Ventures stated that by 2021, cybercrime will cost $6 trillion annually – which is more profitable than the global trade of illegal drugs.
According to the Cisco 2018 Annual Cybersecurity Report, more than half of all attacks resulted in financial damages of more than US$500,000, including, but not limited to, lost revenue, customers, opportunities, and out-of-pocket costs.
Identifying cyber threats and a cybersecurity strategy that covers the phases before, during and after attacks needs to be adopted as normal practice because having the right technology could potentially save your businesses.
South Africa’s step in the right direction was the passing of the Cybercimes Bill in Parliament, which could potentially see businesses across South Africa creating critical units to deal with cybersecurity threats.The Bill was passed in Parliament in November 2018 and once enacted, cybercriminals could face jail time of up to three years. The Bill seeks to criminalise the theft and interference of data and malicious electronic communication. It contains strict rules against hacking, and states that the collection and storage of information can be used as evidence.