Top tech executive calls for consolidated strategy to tackle cyber crime

Top tech executive calls for consolidated strategy to tackle cyber crime
IMAGE: Tshepo Mokoena, Chairman of IN2IT Technologies

South Africa needs a nationwide consolidated level readiness to tackle cyber attacks, so says Tshepo Mokoena, Chairman of tech group IN2IT.

Mokoena says currently readiness is limited to individual organisations fighting the cyber attack, whereas what is needed is an integrated country wide plan to stop cyber criminals.

The call for national cyber response plan comes as many companies and organisations in SA have been under attack from cyber criminals.

Recently there was a report that credit bureau TransUnion had been attacked by a hacker group that is demanding a $15 million (R223 million) ransom.

The hacker group, going by the name N4aughtysecTU, which claims to hail from Brazil, breached TransUnion and accessed 54 million personal records of South Africans.

According to Mokoena, local companies are currently at the mercy of global syndicates of internet criminals, and should be insulated from cyber threats such as DDOS, phishing, malware, ransomware among many others.

“Banking, government services such electricity or water supply, and telecoms are more vulnerable to the latest wave of cyber attacks. Usually in such cyber attacks many SMMEs are impacted as a collateral damage so irrespective of the size of the organization in today’s digital age everyone needs to do long term sustainable cyber security safeguarding,” says Mokoena.

“The current level of readiness to thwart cyber attacks is limited to individual organisations, whereas what is needed is a consolidated country level readiness to tackle cyber attacks.”

Mokoena, whose IN2IT company is focused on digital transformation, artificial intelligence, cloud, as well as cyber security, adds that the on-going Russia and Ukraine conflict may have plunged the world in a global cyber war, hence the need for South Africa to have national plan to fight back.

He explains further: “In cybersecurity physical distance is not relevant, as globally anyone is just one click away. The 2017 Russian cyberattack on Ukraine’s banking and financial services later spilled over to UK, USA, France, Germany, and many other countries.”

“Data wiping software were used in Ukraine and those can spill over to the world. In recent times EU, NATO and many others have been part of global cyber security support to Ukraine. So any retaliation will have an impact beyond just one or two countries.”

According to Mokoena, SA should expect more attacks in the in the near future, as multiple cyber threats will be targeted to remote and hybrid workers. To mitigate risk for now, he says: “Safeguard networks and end points. Use multifactor authentication wherever possible, software patches up to date, network segmentation.”