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.”
Smart home arrives in SA
The smart home is no longer a distant vision confined to advanced economies, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK.
The smart home is a wonderful vision for controlling every aspect of one’s living environment via remote control, apps and sensors. But, because it is both complex and expensive, there has been little appetite for it in South Africa.
The two main routes for smart home installation are both fraught with peril – financial and technical.
The first is to call on a specialist installation company. Surprisingly, there are many in South Africa. Google “smart home” +”South Africa”, and thousands of results appear. The problem is that, because the industry is so new, few have built up solid track records and reputations. Costs vary wildly, few standards exist, and the cost of after-sales service will turn out to be more important than the upfront price.
The second route is to assemble the components of a smart home, and attempt self-installation. For the non-technical, this is often a non-starter. Not only does one need a fairly good knowledge of Wi-Fi configuration, but also a broad understanding of the Internet of Things (IoT) – the ability for devices to sense their environment, connect to each other, and share information.
The good news, though, is that it is getting easier and more cost effective all the time.
My first efforts in this direction started a few years ago with finding smart plugs on Amazon.com. These are power adaptors that turn regular sockets into “smart sockets” by adding Wi-Fi and an on-off switch, among other. A smart lightbulb was sourced from Gearbest in China. At the time, these were the cheapest and most basic elements for a starter smart home environment.
Via a smartphone app, the light could be switched on from the other side of the world. It sounds trivial and silly, but on such basic functions the future is slowly built.
Fast forward a year or two, and these components are available from hundreds of outlets, they have plummeted in cost, and the range of options is bewildering. That, of course, makes the quest even more bewildering. Who can be trusted for quality, fulfilment and after-sales support? Which products will be obsolete in the next year or two as technology advances even more rapidly?
These are some of the challenges that a leading South African technology distributor, Syntech, decided to address in adding smart home products to its portfolio. It selected LifeSmart, a global brand with proven expertise in both IoT and smart home products.
Equally significantly, LifeSmart combines IoT with artificial intelligence and machine learning, meaning that the devices “learn” the best ways of connecting, sharing and integrating new elements. Because they all fall under the same brand, they are designed to integrate with the LifeSmart app, which is available for Android and iOS phones, as well as Android TV.
Click here to read about how LifeSmart makes installing smart home devices easier.
Matrics must prepare for AI
By Vian Chinner, CEO and founder of Xineoh.
Many in the matric class of 2018 are currently weighing up their options for the future. With the country’s high unemployment rate casting a shadow on their opportunities, these future jobseekers have been encouraged to look into which skills are required by the market, tailoring their occupational training to align with demand and thereby improving their chances of finding a job, writes Vian Chinner – a South African innovator, data scientist and CEO of the machine learning company specialising in consumer behaviour prediction, Xineoh.
With rapid innovation and development in the field of artificial intelligence (AI), all careers – including high-demand professions like engineers, teachers and electricians – will look significantly different in the years to come.
Notably, the third wave of internet connectivity, whereby our physical world begins to merge with that of the internet, is upon us. This is evident in how widespread AI is being implemented across industries as well as in our homes with the use of automation solutions and bots like Siri, Google Assistant, Alexa and Microsoft’s Cortana. So much data is collected from the physical world every day and AI makes sense of it all.
Not only do new industries related to technology like AI open new career paths, such as those specialising in data science, but it will also modify those which already exist.
So, what should matriculants be considering when deciding what route to take?
For highly academic individuals, who are exceptionally strong in mathematics, data science is definitely the way to go. There is, and will continue to be, massive demand internationally as well as locally, with Element-AI noting that there are only between 0 and 100 data scientists in South Africa, with the true number being closer to 0.
In terms of getting a foot in the door to become a successful data scientist, practical experience, working with an AI-focused business, is essential. Students should consider getting an internship while they are studying or going straight into an internship, learning on the job and taking specialist online courses from institutions like Stanford University and MIT as they go.
This career path is, however, limited to the highly academic and mathematically gifted, but the technology is inevitably going to overlap with all other professions and so, those who are looking to begin their careers should take note of which skills will be in demand in future, versus which will be made redundant by AI.
In the next few years, technicians who are able to install and maintain new technology will be highly sought after. On the other hand, many entry level jobs will likely be taken care of by AI – from the slicing and dicing currently done by assistant chefs, to the laying of bricks by labourers in the building sector.
As a rule, students should be looking at the skills required for the job one step up from an entry level position and working towards developing these. Those training to be journalists, for instance, should work towards the skill level of an editor and a bookkeeping trainee, the role of financial consultant.
This also means that new workforce entrants should be prepared to walk into a more demanding role, with more responsibility, than perhaps previously anticipated and that the country’s education and training system should adapt to the shift in required skills.
The matric classes of 2018 have completed their schooling in the information age and we should be equipping them, and future generations, for the future market – AI is central to this.