Pretoria – South Africa’s annual loss from cybercrime is estimated to be around R2.65 billion, according to a recent study by Wolfpack Information Risk. According to a report on Thursday by the Institute of Security Studies cybercrime has become a significant problem in South Africa as the United States Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) has the country listed as the sixth most active cybercrime country in the world.
“At one cyber-security forum last year, information security consultant Beza Belayneh noted that cybercrime in South Africa is a crisis that the government should respond to in the same way that it has responded to the HIV and AIDS pandemic,” said ISS consultant Eric Tamarkin.
In one case a criminal syndicate reportedly managed to use ‘malware’ software to attack a wide range of local retailers, intercept payment from the point of sale terminals and create fraudulent duplicate cards, stealing tens of millions of Rands.
According to Tamarkin, South Africa needs a multi-layered response to cybercrime. He said while local banks have funded the South Africa Banking Risk Information Centre (SABRIC) the government has yet to sponsor a much needed 24/7 cyber-watch centre.
He said the country also needs to develop “robust Computer Emergency Readiness Teams (CERTs) to respond to cyber incidents, provide technical assistance to hacked businesses and disseminate timely notifications regarding current and potential threats.”
The University of Johannesburg has taken steps forward into the battle against cybercrime, partnering with the Academy of Computer Science and Software Engineering to create the Centre of Excellence in Cyber Security, the first such facility in Africa dedicated to fighting cybercrime. This centre now offers a certificate in cyber security.
According to Tamarkin, centres such as this one should be replicated across the country.
He said other measures taken should include raising public awareness around cybercrime, updating and strengthening cybercrime laws and training law enforcement authorities, prosecutors and cyber professionals on current cybercrime threats.
Image Source: Wikimedia Commons
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