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Urgent need to up state institutions' data security

Read time 2min 20sec
Morne Bekker, country manager at NetApp South Africa.
Morne Bekker, country manager at NetApp South Africa.

The spate of burglaries at some of SA's top institutions is a reminder of how public sector organisations have failed to use the capabilities and benefits that technology offers.

This is the view of Morne Bekker, country manager at NetApp SA, who says there is an urgent need to transform state institutions' data management and security strategies.

In March, IT equipment containing confidential information about Constitutional Court judges and officials was stolen from the office of chief justice Mogoeng Mogoeng.

More recently, the office of the National Prosecuting Authority was burgled, which saw two laptops belonging to prosecutors being stolen, along with hard drives. This incident occurred within weeks of a break-in at the Hawks Silverton office.

Bekker told ITWeb the crime prevention framework in high-level state institutions needs new ways to work and serve.

"These institutions collect a lot of private data on behalf of their constituents and this makes them a popular target due to the nature of the data they have."

Protective measures

Although the levels of risk pertaining to different types of data differ, public sector organisations have several protection strategies at their disposal.

Bekker points out moving to the cloud can no longer be a prospect for 'someday' in the future; it is essential now.

According to him, the infrastructure of state institutions fails to achieve data management, data security and reliability, as well as cost-saving efficiencies that could be realised through a smarter IT system underpinned by cloud technology.

"High-level state institutions can use cloud resources from different vendors, by retaining full control over their data. The use of cloud resources will put IT departments in a position to integrate the most powerful data analysis engines without investing big money in a new on-premises IT infrastructure.

"If an adequate IT infrastructure can be implemented to cope with the huge influx of crucial data, then we have the ability to transform the way public sector institutions operate and what they have the ability to do in future."

Bekker also believes government and technology companies can work together to develop the infrastructure and skills necessary to educate and put in place better data management and protection strategies.

"By combining their areas of expertise - the government's being running a country and the private sector's being ICT - the two parties can work together to understand and address challenges," he concludes.

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