South Africa is one country that has been struggling to come to terms with the huge cyber security problem it faces. According to the Global Fraud Report, an annual publication that ranks regions according to the number of incidents of cybercrime, sub-Saharan Africa has the third highest exposure to incidents of cyber fraud of any region in the world. And, according to the research, incidences of cybercrime and cyber security breaches are rising.

South Africa is one of the leading targets for cybercriminals on the African continent due to its relatively high rate of internet connectivity in relation to other African countries. This opens it up to all kinds of threats, many of which businesses and private individuals are ill-equipped to deal with.

What type of risks does it face?

As with other countries around the world, South Africa faces and an ever-evolving range of threats. However, the Global Fraud Report ranks data deletion due to system issues as the most prevalent form of attack. After that, wire transfer accounted for 26 percent of cybercrime in the country, which was far above the global average of 14 percent.

Other prevalent forms of attack include viruses and email-based phishing scams, which cause such problems that short-term South African lender Wonga has recently produced a guide to help its customers identify genuine and fake emails.

The report also looked at the numerous threats to South African businesses, with unlawful acquisition or interference with sensitive data the most common. In fact, data breaches were found to have a total organisational cost of R20,6 million.

The introduction of the Cybercrimes and Cyber Security Bill

Until very recently, South Africa did not have any legislation in place to combat cybercrimes. On 21 February 2017, all that changed with the introduction of the Cybercrimes and Cyber Security Bill. That criminalised a number of activities that includes but is not limited to:

  • Unlawful acquisition of data

  • Unlawful acts in respect of software or hardware tools

  • Unlawful interference with a computer programme

  • Unlawful acquisition, possession, provision, receipt or use of password, access codes or similar data or devices

  • Unlawful interference with a computer data storage medium or computer system

The Bill also imposes a range of penalties for offenders which includes fines and custodial sentences of up to 15 years.

The first line of defence

Although the new legislation will make it easier to prosecute those involved in cybercrime, it will not help to protect businesses and private individuals in the first instance. When it comes to your personal finances, the onus is on you to protect yourself.

This can be done by:

  • Updating your operating system, software and internet browser

  • Regularly running up-to-date antivirus software

  • Keeping a backup of important files

  • Regularly changing your passwords

  • Learning to recognise the signs of phishing scams

Do you think the government is doing enough to combat cybercrime?

Perhaps you’ve been a victim?

Please share your experiences in the comments below.

Partner Content: This article is brought to you by Wonga.

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