Changing cybersecurity in South Africa

Issue 7 2021 News, Cyber Security

Exports and imports nearly crippled, many justice-related activities restrained, 14 gigabytes of national space data and sensitive consumer and employee data including voice recordings stolen and some exposed online would have sounded like the cybersecurity premise to a Hollywood blockbuster five years ago.

Kevin Smith.

Africa’s organisations need cybersecurity solutions and services more compelling and relevant to the challenges they face, which is why NEC XON has redesigned the cybersecurity value proposition for South African organisations and how they consume these solutions and services in ways that ramp up their effectiveness.

“Hackers have hammered South Africa’s government organisations and private enterprises in the past few months,” says Jason Barr, executive: safety solutions at NEC XON. “These attacks expose our greatest weakness, that traditional approaches to cybersecurity are no longer effective. We need new solutions, new services and a new approach that is relevant to the extreme risks that can change the fate of organisations and individual people overnight.

“The big challenge is that most organisations don’t have the IP to establish a strategic, planned response that gets the most out of limited human and financial resources. That’s what we do and to further enhance our mature cybersecurity model we have added new leadership to help deliver risk-based solutions that help organisations identify, mitigate and respond to dynamic threat environments.”

Experienced leadership

NEC XON has appointed Kevin Smith to head up its Cyber Security business unit. Smith is an executive with decades of experience who has led the cybersecurity activities of major global vendors in South Africa, leading African systems integrators and provided independent strategic advisory consulting to blue-chip customer organisations.

“Cybersecurity is a dynamic and exciting field to be in right now from a technical perspective, but fraught with unacceptable risk exposure that businesses need to and want to manage better,” says Smith.

“While the world’s top vendors and OEMs provide excellent technologies and we have some of the finest global skills in this country, connecting these into solutions that are relevant to primary customer challenges, in ways that maximise resources and capitalise on strategic mitigation, is an opportunity to improve capabilities,” he says.

Cybersecurity is a complex and exceptionally challenging environment given the modern need to connect many people in dispersed locations with distributed and highly integrated systems, data sources and repositories. Hackers most commonly exploit the vulnerabilities that arise from the complications around managing and maintaining these different environments that often come with competing requirements, such as accessibility and availability versus privacy and protection.

Frameworks and organised structures are essential, says Smith. But so too are services tailored to customer requirements because each organisation’s architecture is uniquely its own.

Covering the bases

“At the highest level we need to continuously assess, design, deploy, respond and maintain. Our approach must balance availability, integrity and confidentiality by leveraging identity management, asset management, data management and management of the perimeter everywhere. But we must also cover all the bases, everything from general advisory consulting to technologies, specialist services and contract staffing, because different customers have different needs, different risk priorities and different budgets and resources.”

NEC XON helps customers mature their cybersecurity posture to achieve strategic outcomes by focusing on key drivers such as moving to multi-cloud environments, network architecture and topology revisions, IoT and 5G adoption, deeper changes to create competitive advantage, secure more market share and increase revenues. It helps organisations mature progressively, from point security through aggregation and correlation of multiple points to orchestration and automation of interaction between points.

“We’re here to help customers balance risk management and cybersecurity investment, transform capex to opex and automate activities to reduce costs through managed security services so they can get on with their core initiatives,” says Barr.

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