News / Opinion

Stephen Kreusch
2 minute read
26 Oct 2021
6:40 am

How SA can fight back against cybercrime

Stephen Kreusch

Your chances of being a cybercrime victim are much higher than you think.

Picture: iStock

How bad can a cyberattack be?

Despite years of escalating attacks, cybercrime still exists. It’s hard to imagine a hacker breaching your system in the same way as robbers bursting through the doors of a bank.

But the recent hack of Transnet’s port systems gives us an unambiguous measure. Criminals breached the systems that manage the Durban Port, effectively shutting down infrastructure that handles 60% of South Africa’s imports.

It was so bad that Transnet declared a temporary force majeure.

In the US, a major pipeline was shut down for days after a breach. Locally, operations at the justice department were disrupted by cyberattacks and is still busy getting its systems back in order.

These examples demonstrate how dangerous such breaches are. Some companies still argue that they are too unlikely a target. But cybercriminals are a motivated lot, always looking for the next opportunity.

You can find entire value chains in the cybercrime world. Some people called initial access brokers make money by finding ways to breach systems and selling that access to other criminals, who then infect systems and demand payment.

Such transactions represent just one part of an industry that earns more than R14.7 trillion a year.

Many attacks aren’t random. Criminals do their homework, looking for victims with access to sensitive data or systems. Your chances of being a cybercrime victim are much higher than you think.

If you are a board member or a director, you must ask your IT leaders what they need in place for security and you must work with them to make it happen.

ALSO READ: Calls for transparency after justice department cyber attack

Good security isn’t bought off a shelf. It’s a complex and ongoing culture, like servicing your vehicles or balancing your books. Complacency is an opportunity for motivated criminals looking for their next payday.

Reports about cybercrime are scary and unnerving to read. Yet even though the headlines focus on successful attacks, prevention works and more companies can recover from – and prevent or mitigate – such attacks.

The most effective way to build proper security is through managed security service providers (MSSPs).

This type of security provider builds services that are modified for different customers, providing 24/7 monitoring.

By pooling resources, MSSPs protect multiple customers while keeping costs lower through economies of scale. We also have more exposure to what is happening out in the digital Wild West and can adapt to the latest cybercrime tactics.

MSSPs are the most potent answer to cybercrime yet.

– Stephen Kreusch is the director of cybersecurity and incident response at Performanta