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Why SA businesses need to update their approach to cyber security
30/05/22
Image of a laptop screen showing a username, password and a lock

New technologies have shaken up the world of work, but with this increased digital reliance comes the need for better cyber security. Security breaches and data theft can cost small to medium-sized businesses (SMEs) a lot in terms of lost productivity and revenue. If South African businesses are going to enjoy the benefits of automation, cloud computing and digital platforms, then they need to protect themselves against the risk of cyber attack. 

Legacy systems, such as traditional anti-virus software that is installed on each individual device, are not going to cut it in this day and age of interconnected computing. Hackers are highly skilled in finding vulnerabilities in networks and computer systems, so businesses need to take a more holistic approach to cyber security. Traditional antivirus software is like each device wearing their own safety helmet, while more advanced cyber security is like putting all those devices undercover in a bunker. 

A new approach to online security

When cyber security systems are made up of silos, SMEs are more vulnerable to attack. Using different vendors creates gaps in the cybersecurity system and these gaps are exploited by cyber criminals. 

If businesses don’t have good transparency over what is happening across all their networks and devices, then it is difficult to detect threats. Attacks can happen at different points, so it is important for security teams to be able to see the whole picture, analysing the system as a whole. This helps to protect multiple points of the business network. 

The new generation of cybersecurity is Extended Detection and Response (XDR). This involves multiple layers of security, including emails, the cloud, networks, servers and all the different end points. XDR offers faster detection with better analysis and improves response times. Businesses looking to secure their IT systems can keep costs low by outsourcing their cybersecurity. 

Cyber security for South African businesses

Cybercrime costs South African businesses R2.2 billion a year. With almost 580 malware attacks happening per hour, South Africa faces the highest level of threats in Africa. While large businesses generally have budgets set aside for cyber security, SMEs have overlooked this for a number of years. 

SMEs are a massive target for cyber criminals. Compromised business emails are extremely common, with hackers sending fraudulent emails asking for funds to be transferred or for sensitive information to be revealed or changed. These emails seem to come from the legitimate owner of the email account, so employees trust the contents and play into the hands of the attackers. 

SMEs need to take cyber security more seriously

In a recent report released by the World Economic Forum, experts warned that business owners need to prioritise cyber security in business decisions. Cyber security should be a key strategic priority, and business leaders need to have a shared understanding of cybersecurity resilience. 

SMEs are generally very slow to detect and resolve a cybersecurity breach. It is estimated that companies need an average of 280 days to identify and respond to an attack. This means that the attackers have plenty of time to infiltrate business networks and servers, get what they need and head off into the sunset. 

Many SMEs are hyperconnected, using publicly available digital tools such as Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) to keep costs low and improve operations. APIs used in payments systems can result in the theft of financial information, and can have devastating consequences for the company and its customers if proper cyber security isn’t in place.  

Better internet security for SMEs

SMEs play an extremely important role in the South African economy, offering a huge source of employment. When affected by a cyber security breach, this has a huge impact on productivity and can lead to job losses or even bankruptcy. SMEs were the most targeted group among businesses in 2021, with a global cost of $6 trillion. As an engine for economic growth, SMEs need to up their game when it comes to cyber security. 

By choosing advanced cyber security, businesses can reap the benefits of global threat intelligence without breaking the bank. The new wave of cyber security uses machine learning and automation that helps the security keep up to date as the threat landscape changes. Agile and dynamic, advanced cyber security uses behavioural analytics, looking at the business network as a comprehensive ecosystem. 

There is a massive shortage in cyber security skills in South Africa, so finding the right partnerships is essential for SMEs. Bridging the gap by using a third-party security expert, such as SEACOM Business (WonderNet’s parent company), means that small companies can stay protected with the most up to date technologies, without the need for an in-house cybersecurity team. 

Protecting your business from cyber attacks

Apart from having the appropriate cyber security systems in place, it is also essential for SMEs to have security protocols and procedures in place, including training for staff. Employees should flag emails containing urgent requests for funds or last minute changes to account information. Unexplained urgency or a refusal to communicate by phone could be signs that a customer’s account has been hacked. Staff should be careful with hyperlinks in emails, and delete or report suspicious correspondence. 

It is a legal requirement for businesses to protect personal data and companies can face liabilities if they fall victim to a security breach. Although cyber security costs money, so do legal costs and reputational costs in the event of a cyber attack. It can be very expensive to restore damaged networks and lost data. 

An updated approach to cyber security

It is essential that businesses leverage the best protection for their data and digital infrastructure. Integrated tools mean that SMEs can prevent debilitating attacks, or if hackers do manage to infiltrate the business network then the attack will be quickly identified and resolved. 

At WonderNet, we believe that information sharing and staff training can go a long way to improve cyber security for your business. With greater resilience to threats, SMEs can safely enjoy the benefits of emerging technologies and focus on growing their businesses. For more information about our fibre offerings or to get a quote for an internet upgrade, please contact us today or check if we’re connected to your address

WonderNet brings affordable broadband internet to South African homes. We work alongside leading fibre network providers to maximise our reach and to offer fast, reliable and secure internet connectivity to your home. We are owned by SEACOM; one of Africa’s top information and communications technology (ICT) companies with an expansive network of subsea cables, landlines and fibre connections. WonderNet strives to offer the best customer service in the country. We will go above and beyond to ensure that our customers are satisfied with their internet access.

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