Don’t squeeze your cyber assets

1 June 2020 Cyber Security

Following on this week’s Life Healthcare cyberattack, the issue of cybersecurity has once again been brought to the fore, as businesses and individuals are forced to evaluate whether measures in place are strong enough to withstand major breeches in their security.

Life Healthcare is the third major South African company that has been targeted by hackers this year. In February, Nedbank warned that the information of about 1,7 million clients was potentially affected by a data breach, and the following month chemicals and fertiliser maker Omnia Holdings said its IT infrastructure was subject to a cyberattack. Amongst the other big businesses that have been targeted in South Africa are Johannesburg City Council, Capitec Bank and Telkom.

The trend is also true for the rest of the continent. In Kenya, the National Youth Service (NYS) and Integrated Financial Management System (IFMIS) were among a host of government websites that were attacked by an Indonesia hacker group, Kurd Electronic Team.

According to Michael Tumusiime, lead security engineer at Checkpoint East Africa, businesses must look at threats from an architectural perspective. Considering the many attack surfaces, attackers can now get into environments a lot easier and quicker.

“We additionally have mobile threats with people working from home; the perimeter has moved, therefore you can no longer protect your assets just by using perimeter security. You need to think about the different ways that people access information and the different assets to protect. Think mobile threats, think about security in the cloud, think about IoT devices and have a comprehensive security approach protecting those. It also helps if you have an incidence response plan to help in the mitigation and recovery in case you get compromised.”

The consistent threat to companies is due to the nature of cutting corners. Institutions are cutting corners around cost and setup of technology, and this directly relates to the challenges that they are experiencing, using technology that is not 99,9% bullet proof.

What happened to Life Health is not unique; it is something that is happening globally. When COVID-19 kicked off, we saw many customers in Europe being targeted with fictitious COVID-related emails and domains. Africa has followed closely behind as we are now starting to see these attacks reach our continent. We can also expect this trend to continue if companies use generation 3 and 4 security to ward off generation 5 and 6 attacks.

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