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Cape Town - Small companies in South Africa need to be vigilant in the fight against cyber threats, says Professor Basie von Solms, Director of the Centre for Cyber Security at the University of Johannesburg.

According to Von Solms, it is well known that there is not enough capacity in South Africa for effective cybersecurity. "You have to find someone else or resort to consultants," noted Von Solms. The international business community was taken by surprise when malware, called the WannaCry worm, affected several hundred thousand Windows computers around the world recently. 

The worm disrupted car factories, global shipper FedEx Corp and Britain's National Health Service, as well as infecting South African companies. The hacking tool spread silently and quickly between computers, shutting them down by encrypting data and then demanding a ransom of $300 (R3,914) to unlock them. 

"Statistics prove that small companies are becoming a target for criminals by going after sensitive information," said Von Solms. He added that companies generally did not have money for proper online security, which made them extremely vulnerable to attacks. "There are cases of ransom being demanded, sim card swapping, email phishing (fraudulent email messages)," he said. 


"These are all prevalent in South Africa." Some have raised their hopes regarding the forthcoming Cybersecurity Bill. According to State Security Minister, David Mahlobo, the bill would deal with, among others, threats to the territorial integrity and sovereignty of States, damage to the economy, the use of technology to recruit people for terrorist activities, against criminals who use computer data to commit offences, and the use of social media to violate public order or ignite hatred and discrimination. 

"There will be structures to help people, as well as various industries. But I'm extremely sceptical about the bill - it provides a good idea, but we don't have the people to implement it," said Von Solms. 

- African News Agency (ANA)