Cybercrime in South Africa has increased drastically, costing 0.14 percent of GDP or around R5.8 billion between 2013 and 2014, according to McAfee’s Global Cost of Cybercrime Report. Tackling this threat to our country needs a collaborative approach between the public and private sector armed with the right technology and public education.

In The South African Cyber Threat Barometer, Craig Rosewarne, MD of Wolfpack Information Risk explains: “Government cannot combat crime alone, and key partnerships across multi-industries in South Africa are vital to our country’s success going forward.” 

According to Rosewarne, both Government and private institutions have a role to play in addressing cybercrime. The results of which can be used to initiate policies and guidelines to prevent similar attacks in the future. Such insights could help us upgrade our security systems for improved monitoring and analysis – an area currently needing some specialized ‘TLC’.

An interesting bellwether in this government-private landscape is the U.S. Earlier this year, Barack Obama announced his new, intensified stance regarding the management of cybersecurity, which outlines standards that companies operating infrastructure should follow in order to protect from cyberattacks. This executive order has sparked debate around the world – including in South Africa. The US is now focusing on developing an order that will make it easier for private companies to share information about cyberattacks with the government, which will ensure a safe and accessible way to highlight a threat before it hits elsewhere. 

In South Africa, the threat is beginning to be taken seriously by the government as well. However, even though the South African Police Service has introduced an electronic crime unit, it acknowledges that there is a lack of awareness and education about the risks associated with cybercrime in general, as well as the importance of  reporting suspicious cybercrime activities.  

The South African Cyber Threat Barometer points out a number of collaborative initiatives that need to be considered in the South African context. To start, government, with the support of a team of private sector collaborators, needs to implement relevant cybercrime and identity theft legislation to officiate the rules on what is actually punishable. The next step is to pool all the available resources, both public and private sector, and form a united front of cybercrime warriors with clear roles and methods for collaboratively fighting the problem.

Of course, every superhero unit needs financial backing, and though some efforts have been made in the past, government still needs to place cybercrime nearer the top of its priority list. Perhaps with some encouragement from the private sector, the government will pull out ‘the big guns’ and increase their focus on improving the policies and units we already have in place as well as develop new bodies to address the issue. 

While this happens, Mimecast will continue to play its part in protecting customers from the threats they face and educating the wider market about the risks and steps we can all make to mitigate them, and by doing so, better protect ourselves, and our wider economy and society.

For more information on Mimecast’s email security, please click here and download our solution brief. 

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