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SA government is not completely ready for the cyber threats of today and of the future

Hackers continue to up their game and commit cybercrimes, while our cash-strapped government and municipalities remain ill-equipped to stop the hackers in their tracks.

Johannesburg, 14 Dec 2019
Read time 3min 00sec

The relationship between various government departments and the private sector is defined by a service-level agreement. However, these government departments run the risk of exposing themselves to cyber threats, depending on the type of partnership they conclude with a company. This is because some companies are building technology that could carry a cybersecurity risk for government. 

Therefore, every company should ensure that its cybersecurity services allow it to determine whether a specific technology or system carries potential risk.

It is clear that cyber criminals find our government to be a soft target, as seen in the number of attacks carried out on various SA government Web sites, as well as on e-services portals that government provides to deliver some of its basic services. This indicates that many local government departments and municipalities are not ready to withstand cyber threats; their approach to cybersecurity has been reactive rather than proactive. In many cases, they also enter into a partnership with service providers, without considering whether the systems or technologies they are procuring come equipped with cyber protection. 

While every government department and most of the bigger metros have some form of IT security, this is clearly inadequate, given the cyber attacks that have occurred. This underscores the urgency for government to take the threat of cybercrime seriously and make urgent improvements. 

Not only does this lack of investment in proper cybersecurity strategies and technologies endanger national security, it also costs our government a lot of money. 

Over the past 10 years or so, government entities such as the Department of Social Development and the National Planning Commission of SA have been attacked by cybercriminals. In 2012, Postbank lost R30 million in a hi-tech bank heist; in 2016, Armscor lost part of its supply chain database and the SABC Web site was hacked; in 2017, Buffalo City municipality and the Eastern Cape Department of Education became the targets of hackers; and late last year, the City of Johannesburg got a huge wake-up call when its e-services portal was hacked.

These are just some of the government departments and municipalities that have fallen victim to cyber attacks; there are many more. And yet these attacks continue unabated in the wake of government complacency when it comes to implementing proper cybersecurity measures. A disturbing fact is that there are many cases of municipalities and government departments having been attacked more than once.

By having a better cybersecurity strategy in place, supported by certain technologies, these attacks can be prevented. Hackers continue to up their game and commit cybercrimes, while our cash-strapped government and municipalities remain ill-equipped to stop the hackers in their tracks. 

TechnoChange Solutions has been working with some of its customers in helping to develop better cybersecurity strategies. It also offers an advisory service to customers on the safer technologies to use to prevent a cyber attack.

The cost of repairing a hacked system is way more expensive than the initial investment required to secure a system and prevent cybercrime. For many organisations, data is the heart and soul of their business, driving the success of the business. However, many government entities appear to be unable to invest in the protection of their valuable data.

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