it is no longer good enough to install an anti-virus or a firewall and think it is sufficient. Photo: EPA

CAPE TOWN – October is Cyber Security Awareness Month, an internationally recognised campaign held each year to raise awareness around the importance of keeping safe in cyberspace. The campaign focuses on educating individuals on how to be more secure online by following a few simple steps to protect themselves, their families, their workplace, their devices and, most importantly, their children. Read more below: 

Now in its 15th year, the Cyber Security Awareness campaign has been broken down into specific themes per week, with the focus for this week (22-26 October) on “Safeguarding the nation’s critical infrastructure”. The emphasis is on the importance of securing our critical infrastructure such as water, financial services, public health, and communications; and highlighting the roles the public can play in keeping it safe. Any disruption to these internet-based systems can have significant and even catastrophic consequences for our citizens.

“The Fourth Industrial Revolution is disrupting the world one megabyte at a time, fundamentally altering the way we live, work, and relate to one another. In keeping with this revolution, the City of Cape Town is striving to be the most digitally connected city on the continent. To keep pace with technology, the City offers a host of e-services for its residents including emailed rates statements, online renewal of vehicle licences and logging of service requests, among a whole host of other services. As technology evolves, so do the capabilities of cybercriminals to scam and fool clients in various industries. Residents are cautioned that some may try to trick them by impersonating the City, which places them at risk,” said the City’s Mayoral Committee Member for Corporate Services, Councillor Raelene Arendse.

In line with good governance practices, cybersecure behaviour is important to the City. Therefore, the City wants to inform residents of best cybersecurity practices that they can follow to protect themselves against cybercriminals. One of the City’s strategic pillars is to build a safe city, which includes being safe online, whether while using the City’s e-services or other online portals and applications. A caring city strives to have their residents’ information protected, which includes their account information, personal information, profile details, email addresses and mobile numbers.

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Haven for online safety

The theme for week one was ‘How to make your home a haven for online safety’ that placed emphasis on building a strong foundation for learning good cybersecurity practices that could ultimately lead to a career in the industry. Entire families are using the internet to study, work and socialize. Therefore, it is of the utmost importance that the entire family, including children, learn to use the internet safely and responsibly. With more people having internet access through 4G devices and networks at home, and internet usage on the rise, large amounts of personal information are being stored on devices, on social media platforms and in the cloud.

During week two there was an urgent push to highlight the millions of rewarding jobs to attract individuals to pursue a career in cybersecurity. The only way to build a strong defense against cyber-attacks is to build a network of cybersecurity professionals.

‘It’s everyone’s job to ensure online safety at work’ was the key theme for week three. Irrespective of where individuals work, we all have a shared responsibility to protect the organization online. The separation between work and our daily lives has become increasingly blurred; therefore, it is more important than ever to be certain that smart cybersecurity straddles the two.

‘The City’s IS&T Department has for a number of years been doing their bit to educate employees on the importance of cybersecurity and why it’s vital to protect yourself, and your information, online. The department has developed a Cybersecurity Handbook that highlights different types of digital risks and threats, and provides advice and useful tips for staying safe online. There have been numerous requests by employees to make the handbook available to their families. I am pleased to advise that we have taken this heart and made the publication available. Let us all STOP. THINK. VERIFY, before we act on a request that maybe too good to be true,’ said Councillor Arendse.

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