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SA businesses watching their backs for cyberattack in days

More than a third of South Africa IT decision-makers (35%) are on high alert for a cyber-attack on their businesses within days.

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More than a third of South Africa IT decision-makers (35%) are on high alert for a cyber-attack on their businesses within days.

This is a core finding of a new research study entitled The State of Enterprise Security in South Africa 2019, conducted by World Wide Worx in partnership with Trend Micro and VMware. It surveyed IT decision-makers at 220 enterprises across all industries in South Africa on the centrality of cybersecurity in business strategy, the vulnerability of businesses, and security compliance.

It found that while 35% believe an attack will happen within a few days, a further 31% of businesses expected an attack with the year. Fewer than one in five IT decision-makers in SA enterprises think they are safe from attack in the next two years.

Just over half, 57%, of businesses say they will detect evidence of a malicious breach within a few minutes. However, almost half of businesses (43%) won’t know they’ve been compromised until a few hours or longer after a security breach. Such businesses may be in for a big shock. Ransomware and other file destroying malware may corrupt almost every file on a user’s computer within a few hours, which means any response would be too late.

Surprisingly, IT decision-makers are willing to accept responsibility. Half of the respondents (51%) says they would blame their own departments in the event of a breach.

“This finding shows IT decision-makers are cognisant of how important security is to their role, as half of IT decision-makers would accept accountability for a data or security breach in their organisations,” says Indi Siriniwasa, Vice President Sub-Saharan Africa at Trend Micro.

The survey shows a disconnect between who would be aware of data breaches and who should be aware of data breaches. Over a third of IT decision-makers (36%) reported that the IT department would be the most aware of the actions to take after a data breach, while over half of IT decision-makers (54%) reported that their Chief Information Officers should be the most aware of how to navigate the organisation after a data breach.

“We were astonished when we found that CIOs don’t lead the organisation’s response to a data breach,” says Lorna Hardie, Regional Director Sub-Saharan Africa at VMware. “This finding shows that organisations still have a long way to go in terms of connecting a CIO’s strategy to that of the IT department.”

The biggest shortcoming in cybersecurity preparedness was outdated software, with an enormous 77% of IT decision-makers reporting that it makes their organisations highly vulnerable. In terms of additional vulnerability factors, senior management not understanding the risk slots in close behind, indicating a massive need for education and a need for a new approach to security, where it is an intrinsic part of the systems deployed by business.

“All of this then leads us to imagine that the IT departments must feel under siege, yet they are supremely confident in their ability to protect companies,” says Arthur Goldstuck, managing director of World Wide Worx. “Any question relating to their capacity and capability is met with resounding confidence, suggesting that they are either over-confident, or supremely arrogant. At best, we would say that they don’t want to be perceived as falling down on the job and can cope regardless of the obstacles in their way and the threat out there.

“Although 99% says they are confident about protecting the company, the picture disintegrates when asked if they have the skills to do so. Almost half – 45% – agree that they don’t have the skills to protect the company, this disconnect suggests overconfidence in their ability to protect the business,” adds Goldstuck.

Says Hardie: “There is a huge need for senior financial decision-makers to learn that an ounce of data breach prevention is worth a pound of lost data and productivity. Interestingly the research highlights that there will be breaches, that is a fact, but it is how business mitigates these risks going forward with a modern approach to security where we aren’t chasing each breach, but instead shift to a model where we build intrinsic security into everything – the application, the network, essentially everything that connects and carries data.”

Siriniwasa concurs: “The report reveals a stark trend in how South African IT decision-makers protect their corporate networks to gives a clear sense where South African companies need to remain strong and areas of IT security where they need to work on. At this stage, strong information and data security are non-negotiable, but ensuring this requires a cultural shift towards security awareness and collaboration across all parts of the business. Not only does business need to invest in security solutions that are pervasive and intrinsic, but they also have to invest in the right skills and people to drive best practice forward.”

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Meet the ambassador to the future

Tilly Lockey, 14, lost her hands as a toddler, but sees it as a massive opportunity to embrace technology. She chatted with ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK about the human of tomorrow.

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Picture by Arthur Goldstuck

It is a description that defines 14-year-old Tilly Lockey: She lost her hands at the age of 15 months, and now uses bionic hands to show the world how to overcome disability.

That could easily read as an advertisement for a prosthetics company, but Tilly refuses to be defined by marketing messages. She has not only embraced what is supposed to be a disability, but wants to become nothing less than an ambassador to the future.

Picture by Arthur Goldstuck

That is in effect what she is achieving by pushing the boundaries of what is possible with artificial hands. It means that, eventually, she will have more capabilities built into her body than most able-bodied humans can imagine. She collaborates closely with Open Bionics, a start-up that is using 3D printing to create low-cost prosthetics with high-tech capabilities.

“I have very high hopes for the future,” she said during a chat on the sidelines of the SingularityU Summit at Kyalami north of Johannesburg. From Newcastle-on-Tyne in the United Kingdom, she was at the Summit as a guest speaker, chaperoned by her father Adam and sister Tia. 

“When I started working with Open Bionics, I wanted it to include lighting, music, Bluetooth, a projector in my palm, all over-optimistic things. But then I feel that is not too far away, and then a disability would turn into and enhancement of normal human hands. I’m really excited about it.

“I know there’s a couple of things they are working on right now, like trying to get the built-in battery thinner, because it’s hard to get overcoats and jackets over it, so they are trying to get the hands slimmer. They’re working on haptic feedback, to give a sense of touch of vibration, which tells me of I have a good grip on something. It could be coming soon. These hands I’m using now were made in the past five years. In another five years, I think we’ll have all of it.”

The hands in question are called Hero Arms, which its creators, Open Bionics, say is “the world’s first clinically approved 3D-printed bionic arm, with multi-grip functionality and empowering aesthetics”.

Click here to read more about the development of Open Bionics’s Hero Arms.

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How Tilly Lockey became a Hero

Part 2 of ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK’s interview with Tilly Lockey explores her amazing career.

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Picture courtesy SingularityU South Africa 2019 Summit

This is the second part of this series of articles. To start from the beginning, click here.

Tilly Lockey was diagnosed with Meningococcal Septicaemia Strain B when she was 15 months old.

Her mother spotted the tell-tale signs one day in 2007: a fast-spreading skin rash that looks like pinpricks, along with symptoms like lethargy and bruising. She was rushed to hospital, but the bacterial poisoning spread so aggressively, doctors gave Tilley no chance of survival. They had to make a quick decision to amputate her hands to save her life.

Twelve years later, her future truly came into focus: “I was surprised with really cool Alita: Battle Angel bionic Hero Arms and went on the blue carpet at the world premiere of the movie with Rosa Salazar and director James Cameron.”

That pivotal moment in her life would not have been possible without the intensive efforts of her mother, Sara, to raise funds to buy something better than the metal prosthetics issued by the National Health Service in the UK. She increased Tilley’s profile with a campaign to “Give Tilley a Hand”, and today works as a fundraiser and events organiser for the Meningitis Now support group. Her involvement in an event meant she was unable to join Tilley on her trip to South Africa last week, when she spoke at the SingularityU Summit. After coming off stage, Tilley told us that Sara was her biggest inspiration in her life, and the closest to a role model.

“I’m usually a speaker at her events. I tell everyone my story and what I’m doing now and give these kids inspiration, because they often feel they can’t do anything because of what Meningitis did to them.

“I am home schooled now, which is pretty cool, because I’m able to have a career and get educated at the same time. I feel I can do a lot of things that friends can’t do. I can take a whole class on an aeroplane. I have a great time traveling and meeting so many inspiring people who are making a difference in the world.”

The form of Mengingitis that attacked her leaves hidden scars and issues that only become apparent years later. She is almost absurdly cheerful about the challenges that have faced her.

“I personally figured out that my left leg had stopped growing. I’m still finding out things it has caused, but you survive. At least I’m here and I’m alive.”

It does help that she’s comfortable in the spotlight, happy to give interviews, and eager to show what she can do with her bionic hands.

“I want to go into public speaking a lot more, and it could be an option as career. I want it to continue because it’s a lot of fun, and I feel I’ve got a story to share. If I can inspire people to change the world, I will. “

Her travels this year will still take her to Barcelona, Jakarta and New York. In the Big Apple, she will accept a humanitarian award, and intends “to give a funky speech”.

In Jakarta, Indonesia, she will take part in a fashion catwalk and do a makeup tutorial live. She learned to do makeup with one of her bionic hands when she fractured her right elbow in a fall at school

“I got makeup for Christmas and wanted to play with it, and got the idea of doing it with an open hand. It took a lot of perseverance and patience, but after studying how to do it, I was able to recreate a full makeup routine using one hand. It wasn’t a great situation at the time, but now I’m happy it happened because it got me into doing what I do now.”

What she is doing with makeup is remarkable in its own right. She gives tutorials on YouTube, where she says she is “kinda new”, as she has “only around 16,000 followers”. That may well soon expand into cooking videos.

In other words, everything is an opportunity: “I could be sad, just sit on my bed and cry, or I can live my life and realise what I’ve got: these amazing bionic Hero Arms.

“All I want to do is help give people confidence in themselves, accept who they are, accept their scars and everything about them. That they don’t have to impress everybody and just be themselves.”

Read more in the third article of the series about how family remains at the centre of Tilly’s life.

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