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South African enterprises can’t ignore the risk of cyber attacks: the threat is on the rise

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Source: Herman Singh, The Conversation, 2 September 2021, photo credit: Security Brief Asia

Risk managers in South Africa must suffer perpetual headaches these days. There is a crammed list of risk management priorities to constantly monitor. These include variable water and electricity supply, physical crime, bribery and corruption, climate change, political instability, civil unrest – the list goes on.

The recent hack at the state-owned rail and ports company Transnet is an alarming reminder of how cyber security has elbowed its way near the top of the list. Details are understandably sketchy. But the threat was serious enough to take the firm offline for over a week and for Transnet to invoke the force majeure clause on its contracts.

Ransomware attacks are the fastest growing form of cybercrime in the world. They happen through the infiltration by malicious software of a computer or network. The aim is to limit or restrict access to critical data by encrypting files – effectively locking them – until a ransom is paid.

There is one ransomware attack every 11 seconds globally. That’s roughly each time you finish reading one of these paragraphs. The average downtime after each attack is 21 days. This depends on whether the ransom is paid or not. Ransoms are much maligned in public, but routinely paid in private.
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