Picture: 123RF/PWSTUDIO
Picture: 123RF/PWSTUDIO

SA has third-highest number of cybercrime victims in the world with about R2.2bn lost each year through fraudulent activities carried via the internet, according to professional services company Accenture.

The research suggests that threat actors perceive SA organisations and businesses as potentially having lower defensive barriers compared to those in more developed economies, and that they may enjoy a lower risk of incurring consequences for their malicious activity.

"Many developing economies consider cybersecurity a necessity but are not capable of investing sufficient funds as they battle to fight other social problems such as high crime rates, inequality and poverty, as well as high unemployment, and a shortage of skilled labour," said Clive Brindley, senior manager in the security practice at Accenture in Africa.

Businesses that are able and willing to invest in cybersecurity face shortages of trained cybersecurity practitioners.

The Covid-19 may have added fuel to the fire for more cybercrimes to occur.

With SA — and many other countries — in lockdown, more people are working from home than ever before.

And that does not happen without risks.

Millions of workers around the world are accessing enterprise systems outside the safety of the office. According to Accenture, opportunistic criminals may be lurking in the dark corners of the internet looking to steal passwords and access codes, and tap into sensitive business information.

All of this is made easier when workers access systems from less secure locations.

"The threat is amplified as our population is inherently less aware of cyber threats than populations of some other nations," Brindley said.

"Increases in phishing, ransomware and malicious insider attacks mean that organisations need to place greater emphasis on nurturing a security-first culture that reinforces safe behaviours, both for people within an organisation and across entire business ecosystems," he said.

While cyber threats are a reality, the business of defending people and organisations from lurkers on the dark web has presented an opportunity for information technology players.

In 2019, technology firm Altron acquired identity authentication company Ubusha Technologies for R360m in a move to increase its focus on security and broaden its customer base, while a few months earlier Dimension Data launched a new business unit to focus on cybersecurity.