SAIPA ups accounting cyber defence efforts

Simnikiwe Mzekandaba
By Simnikiwe Mzekandaba, IT in government editor
Johannesburg, 03 Nov 2023
SAIPA’s Digital Hub resource platform now features a cyber security toolkit.
SAIPA’s Digital Hub resource platform now features a cyber security toolkit.

With cyber crime at an all-time high, the South African Institute of Professional Accountants (SAIPA) hasmoved to address cyber threats, governance and business continuity risks within the accountancy profession.

The accounting body yesterday introduced its Cyber Kit resource tool, adding to the tools within its Digital Hub.

Unveiled last year, SAIPA’s Digital Hubis a resource platform to promote digital access and innovation in accounting. It was developed in partnership with Vodacom Business and NtaNet Solutions, following a 2021 survey that revealed digital transformation is lagging in the accountancy profession.

With the addition of theCyber Kit, SAIPA says it aims to help businesses protect and secure information.

It includes a cyber security posture analysis and technology controls assessments, to help determine members’ current level of vulnerability to cyber crimes.

It also promotes compliance to key legislation, such as the Protection of Personal Information Act, and business continuity in a digitally-led accountancy landscape, according to SAIPA.

“As an accountancy body committed to ensuring professional accountants are future-fit, SAIPA has a key role to play in driving understanding and education around digital transformation and its relevance to our profession,” explains Thomas Nyamvura, digital and technology officer at SAIPA.

“The Cyber Kit is more than a simple collection of products, but a crucial resource for accountancy, tax and finance professionals digitally accessing sensitive information of their own and their clients.”

South Africa has of late been recording unprecedented cyber security incidents, with the CSIR estimating financial losses of up to R2.2 billion per annum to the South African economy.

There has been a number of high-profile cyber attacks on the local front recently, including on credit bureaus, healthcare and retail groups, several government departments, as well as highly-organised DDOS attacks on banks.

Statistics show SA ranks fifth on the cyber crime density list, with an 8% increase in cyber victims from 2021 to 2022. Worldwide, research found that phishing was the most prevalent cyber crime in 2022, with 300 000 victims.

“Installing anti-virus software is a good first step, as is setting up a VPN to encrypt internet connections, but it’s not enough to rely on these avenues alone,” notes Nyamvura.

“The Cyber Kit is a comprehensive future-proofing toolkit that ensures businesses are able to embrace digital transformation and innovation with peace of mind, as they consider the expanding influence of technology in the accountancy profession.”

Aside from data protection, SAIPA indicates the Cyber Kit acts as an information backup system for redundancy and archiving purposes, as well as ease of access.

As such, professional accountants are able to leverage cloud computing services, as well as mobile connectivity and data analytics to create value, implement improved systems for data capture and storage, inform effective strategic decision-making and improve client relationships, it says.