The typical ransom scenario has been played out in many movie blockbusters. The bad guys follow the rich children home from school and despite the bodyguards and the security, the kids get kidnapped and held for ransom. A thrilling and heady journey ensues, and after million-dollar stunts, the kids are returned unharmed. While kidnappings for ransom continue to occur in Russia and some South American countries, a different and equally malicious ransom phenomenon is happening, and more often than we think.
Ransomware is a form of malware or a virus that prevents users from accessing their systems or data until the money is paid. According to global IT organisation, Phoenix Nap, clicking on infected links is the primary attack method.
Phoenix Nap revealed that:
- A new organisation will fall victim to ransomware every 14 seconds in 2019, and every 11 seconds by 2021.
- 1.5 million new phishing sites are created every month. (Source: webroot.com)
- Ransomware attacks have increased by over 97% in the past two years. (Source: Phishme)
- A total of 850.97 million ransomware infections were detected by the institute in 2018.
- 34% of businesses hit with malware took a week or more to regain access to their data. (Source: Kaspersky)
- 81% of cybersecurity experts believe there will be a record number of ransomware attacks in 2019. (Source: CIO Dive)
- McAfee analysts suggest that individuals with a large number of connected devices and a high net worth are some of the most attractive targets.
The South African Banking Risk Information Centre has warned companies – big and small – that the threat of a cyberattack has never been this severe. South Africa has the third-highest number of cybercrime victims in the world and loses about R2.2 billion to this phenomenon. In addition, this may be a conservative estimate as many cyber attacks go unreported.
Once-upon-a-time, when a company’s backups were on tape, hacking was almost unheard of. But now, data is stored on disk or in the cloud and is at a significantly high ransomware risk. Kyocera Document Solutions South Africa (KDZA) is behind equipping its clients and community with the tools necessary to combat the threat of a massive data breach, and in particular, ransomware.
Minimising your risk means minimising the loss of access to sensitive data; operational downtime; compliance and legal issues; brand damage and the loss of customers and; financial losses due to the replacement and repair of compromised machines and devices.
Ways to protect your business from ransomware
Ransomware is designed to restrict your access to valuable business information. The US Department of Homeland has put together a comprehensive guide on protecting your business and keeping your data safe. Here are some highlights:
Be clever with your passwords
Two-factor authentication, in particular, is a more secure method of authorising access. It requires two out of the following three types of credentials: something you know (e.g., a password or PIN), something you have (e.g., a token or ID card), and something you are (e.g., a biometric fingerprint). Because one of the two required credentials requires physical presence, this step makes it more difficult for a threat actor to compromise your device.
Ensure you choose secure networks
Use internet connections you trust, such as your home service. Public networks are not very secure, which makes it easy for others to intercept your data. If you choose to connect to open networks, consider using antivirus and firewall software on your device. Another way you can help secure your mobile data is by using a Virtual Private Network service, which allows you to connect to the internet securely by keeping your exchanges private while you use Wi-Fi.
Upgrade that software
Manufacturers issue updates as they discover vulnerabilities in their products. Automatic updates make this easier for many devices—including computers, phones, tablets, and other smart devices—but you may need to manually update other devices.
Kyocera Document Solutions South Africa believes that when it comes to cybersecurity defence, it’s important to have a holistic approach, using technology, education and preparation to ensure your data remains protected, no matter what attacks are levelled at you.
Meet the accountant of the future
The accountant of the future will need a new set of skills, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK, as he meets both the local users and the global creators of Xero accounting software
Meet Buchule and Sivenathi Sibaca. They are not only partners in marriage, but also in a thriving accounting business. Buchule and Sivenathi are, respectively, chief executive officer and chief financial officer of SMTAX, which focuses on tax and accounting services for small businesses in the Western Cape, but includes the likes of Absa and Old Mutual among its clients. It employs 18 people and has 4,500 individual and business customers.
That’s not what makes the outfit remarkable. The startling feature of this business is that it has been structured to be a model accounting firm of the next decade. Even more remarkable is the fact that the couple both hail from rural areas where thoughts of the future tend to be about survival rather than blazing new trails.
Last week, they made their first trip out of the country, to attend Xerocon London 2019. This 2-day conference, hosted by the world’s fastest growing accounting software maker, Xero, attracted more than 3,000 delegates from the United Kingdom, Europe Middle East and Africa. A total of 57 Xero partners and users, mostly from accounting practices or suppliers to accountants, made the trek from South Africa.
“It was really about seeing how other accountants on other continents operate in terms of how they think and where their headspace is at,” Buchule told us during Xerocon. “Also, being our first time out of the country, it was to see the culture of other small businesses outside of South Africa.
“London’s quite different in that regard, but it’s been a really a great learning curve, and we were pleasantly surprised to find elements that look like South Africa, where we can say, at least you’re doing something right. The banking environment is quite unique, as it’s been a really good learning curve in terms of where banking might go to in the future of South Africa if they follow the same trend.”
Buchule comes from the “dusty streets” of Uitenhage in the Eastern Cape, while Sivenathi grew up on a farm in a deep rural area near Mthatha.
“I had no idea about technology or the rest of the world or how it could impact the economy in general,” she said. The two met at the University of Cape Town, where she was studying to be an actuary, and he completed a Masters degree in tax. She decided to put actuarial science behind her, however, when the opportunity arose to join Buchule’s business. But her skills helped transform the business.
Said Buchule: “When Sivenathi came on board we did the modeling of the business, and we said that in order to in order to automate the whole bookkeeping journey, we would need to turn closer and closer towards ‘x’, meaning fully automated bookkeeping. We looked at the journey of how long it will it take for us to get to time ‘x’. And then we said, OK, once we get there, what then?
“It was a big realization that when we do get to time ‘x’, the most important thing will be the human touch. That will be the differentiator. So we then spent our time developing that.”
Visit the next page to read more about the Xerocon 2019 event.
Takealot reveals startling numbers for Black Friday
Takealot has revealed startling numbers for expected bumper sales this holiday season, beginning next week, and peaking with Black Friday.
South Africa’s leading ecommerce group expects to ship at least one order every second, with roughly 10,000 boxes leaving their warehouses every hour, this shopping season.
Black Friday was first introduced to South Africa by Takealot in 2012, and has since become an important day in South Africa’s annual retail calendar. It has been a record-breaker for both retailers in the Takealot Group: Takealot and Superbalist. Takealot’s Black Friday gross merchandise value (GMV) grew 125% from 2017 to 2018, with orders up 127%. Superbalist’s Black Friday GMV has grown on average around 50%. This year, CEO Kim Reid is anticipating the biggest Black Friday yet, a culmination of months of tech and operational business-wide focus to prepare for increased predicted traffic and shopper volumes.
ABSA bank estimates that two out of three South Africans participated in Black Friday sales in 2018. And FNB reports in 2018, Black Friday transaction volumes grew by 16% compared with 2017 and anticipates a 15% increase in transactions over the sales period in 2019.
Successfully meeting this massive growth in orders has been a key focus for the Takealot Group. CEO Kim Reid says throughout the year they have been working to scale operations across multiple areas within the business. “After expanding our Johannesburg distribution centre (DC), our warehouse storage space now stands at 75 000m2. We house over 3.7 million items at any given time, and have opened 47 Takealot Pickup Points in the Eastern Cape, Western Cape, Gauteng, Kwa-Zulu Natal, Limpopo, Free State and Mpumalanga for order collections and returns, with more to open in the coming months.”
Takealot Delivery Team delivers to more South African homes than any other courier company in the country. On a monthly basis, they carry out over 1.6-million deliveries, with this number expected to increase to over 2-million during the shopping season. More than 4,500 drivers currently deliver for the Takealot Delivery Team; a number that is growing every month. The Takealot group anticipates they’ll travel over 4,000 000km from Black Friday until 24 December. “To put that in context, it is the equivalent of circumnavigating the globe over 100 times” says Reid.
Takealot.com’s Blue Dot Sale is a five day sale period which starts on Black Friday (29 November) and sees a range of new deals throughout the weekend as well as on Cyber Monday (2 December) and Takealot Tuesday (3 December), with up to 60% off thousands of items. For the first time, takealot.com will also be giving their shoppers early access to some of its Black Friday deals, starting on 24 November. Fresh new app-only deals will be added daily.
The Superbalist Showdown will run from 29 November to 3 December, with up to 70% off more than 15 000+ items. Superbalist shoppers will also have early access to Black Friday deals on selected days throughout November, with Superbalist’s Black Friday Spoilers – 24 hours to shop deals that they say won’t be beaten on Black Friday.