CSIR to create home-grown cyber security systems

Dr Jabu Mtsweni: Public sector cyber security capability should be home-grown to fit local problems.
Dr Jabu Mtsweni: Public sector cyber security capability should be home-grown to fit local problems.

Public sector cyber security capability and technologies should be as much as possible home-grown to fit local problems and avoid threats in systems built by others.

This is according to Dr Jabu Mtsweni, research group leader for cyber defence at the CSIR, speaking at the ITWeb Security Summit 2017 currently taking place in Midrand.

"If you are unable to have your own home-grown systems, you are at the mercy of the people who create them," said Mtsweni, who explained that cybersecurity is no longer just about protecting data but also about protecting people as breaches can have real-world consequences.

Cyber security is a national security issue, according to Mtsweni. He cited South Korea and Israel as countries that use technology built by others, but still build their own capabilities on top of them. As no one system "out there" is 100% secure and meets everyone's specific requirements, having a mixture of systems is a necessity.

Long time in the making

In the South African space, the cybersecurity agenda took a long time to be approved. He said these processes should be sped up as the criminals are not waiting, "They are eating!" he said.

One of the areas where organisations are most vulnerable, said Mtsweni, is personal mobile devices plugging into the company network. "The popularity and extensive adoption of mobile devices by the general public has created many opportunities for cyber criminals."

Heloise Pieterse, CSIR cyber warfare senior researcher, said mobile technology is constantly improving, which makes it a highly dynamic attack landscape.

Mobile security is a challenge as people do not know where to focus, she adds.

The CSIR has created its own solution called the Mobile Verification Centre, which helps organisations detect if mobile phones contain threats before they enter their system.

The CSIR's current mandate is to do directed, multi-disciplinary research and technological innovation to foster, in the national interest, industrial and scientific development, by itself, or in cooperation with private and public sectors.

Read time 1min 50sec
Lauren Kate Rawlins
ITWeb digital and innovation editor.

Lauren Kate Rawlins is the digital and innovation editor at ITWeb. She made the move to online journalism after a stint with broadsheets in Durban. She now writes about the different ways businesses are embracing digital transformation, how small start-ups are disrupting big industry, and how the machines are slowing taking over. She investigates the far flung corners of the web and interrogates the algorithms our social lives revolve around. She researches emerging technologies and puts into words how 21st century living, more and more, resembles a scene in a science fiction novel.

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