A screenshot of the warning screen from a purported ransomware attack, as captured by a computer user in Taiwan, is seen on laptop in Beijing, Saturday, May 13, 2017. Dozens of countries were hit with a huge cyberextortion attack Friday that locked up computers and held users' files for ransom at a multitude of hospitals, companies and government agencies. (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein)

South Africans are currently living in peaceful conditions and therefore it’s understandable that whenever funds are allocated to the army many question the value of the military.

Recent cyber attacks across the world should change the current sense of security. In the United Kingdom the recent cyber attacks threatened lives beyond the digital space.

According to recent reports hackers infiltrated the health service’s antiquated computer system. Operations and appointments were cancelled and ambulances diverted as up to 40 hospital trusts became infected by a “ransomware” attack demanding payment to regain access to vital medical records. Doctors warned that the infiltration – the largest cyber attack in UK’s NHS history – could cost lives.

Imagine if such an attack were to hit South African businesses,health,transport and other systems. The entire country could come to a stand still.

The German government realised the seriousness of cyber attacks as a result recently they launched a Cyber army.  The German Cyber army will have its own independent organizational structure, thus becoming the sixth branch of the German military – on a par with the army, navy, air force, joint medical service and joint support service.

13,500 German soldiers and civilian contractors currently dealing with cyber defense from a number of different locations will be brought together under  a single entity. The Bundeswehr (German army) is also desperately seeking IT specialists in the labor market. It is currently running elaborate advertising campaigns in order to pitch the army as an attractive and modern IT employer.

South Africa is not immune to recent cyber attacks. It’s a matter of time before other countries are affected by similar threats.  The South African government should consider setting up  a Cyber army not to kill but with the sole focus of defending health,transport,telecommunications and other critical systems.

The army should no longer view threat as something that will be visible to the naked eye. More threats will come from the cyber space however such threats will have a negative impact on people’s a lives and businesses. The government should consider training young unemployed technology graduates in defending national systems using their technology skills before it’s too late.