11 Feb South African businesses warned to ‘up their game’ against cyber attacks
Specialist insurer King Price has warned South African businesses that they need to be extra secure against the threat of cyber attacks.
Last year saw a new record for the number of data breaches according to the Identity Theft Resource Centre. Additionally, Interpol estimates nine out of every 10 African businesses are currently operating without the necessary cyber security protocols in place; not only is this putting themselves at risk but their clients are also at risk of massive financial loss.
Minnaar Fourie, King Price commercial director, said: “Many smaller businesses we talk to seem to think they won’t be targeted. They are wrong. What we’re seeing clearly is a trend where businesses of all sizes, in all sectors, are potential targets for cybercriminals.
“SMEs are often the weakest link as they don’t have the same level of protection as big companies.”
Fourie also added that a cyber attack can literally put a small to mid-sized company out of business. A 2019 IBM study put the average total cost of a data breach in SA at R43.3m, which could devastate a business.
Fourie continued: “Adding an extra layer of complexity is SA’s Protection of Personal Information Act, which fundamentally changed the way businesses deal with consumers’ personal information. If your business is hacked and you don’t have the correct procedures and safeguards in place, you could get fined by the regulator.
“On top of that, anyone who incurred damages as a result of the breach could take legal action against the company for damages. We’re not even getting to the issue of reputational damage.”
Cyber security insurance is now becoming much more widespread among South African businesses, with insurers insisting upon security basics such as firewalls, enterprise-level anti-virus software and regular data back ups. However, Fourie insists the biggest step companies can take is to educate their employees and make them aware of the risks.
Fourie explained: “It’s no use spending millions on security solutions if you don’t educate your people. When it comes to security, your people are the weakest link. They click on dodgy links. They use weak passwords. They let other people use their devices at home.
“Your best defence is to create an active cyber security culture that gets everyone in the business following basic security habits.”