‘Users need to protect themselves from attack’

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Local businesses need to gear themselves for a wave of cyber attacks as malicious software spreads throughout ,Picture: Gallo Images

Local businesses need to gear themselves for a wave of cyber attacks as malicious software spreads throughout the world, leading to corporate data being locked up and held for ransom. Vikas Kapoor of In2IT says ransomware is unique among cyber crimes because for in order for the attack to be successful, it requires the victim to become a willing accomplice after the fact.

“This can be avoided if people practise safer browsing and computing habits.” Ransomware takes over a user’s computer, infecting it when the user opens an attachment. This results in documents on the PC being locked. The user receives a demand for a ransom, usually in bitcoins, in exchange for a decryption key to unlock the data. Newer waves of ransomware like Petya, however, don’t stop at a single user’s device and spread rapidly into the systems of entire organisations.

SA is not exempt so South African businesses need to actively invest in measures to protect themselves. Kapoor cautions businesses and government agencies to protect themselves and, collectively, each other. Implementing basic IT security and safety practices starts at grassroots level, which often gets ignored due to focus on “blindly following the trends in security”.

In many countries children as young as 12 are being taught basic internet safety practices to identify risks, such as what constitutes a suspicious file or attachment, how to securely navigate the internet and social media and what to do to protect yourself and your device. In South Africa, many users of computers, tablets, and smart phones do not even have basic anti-virus software, leaving the way open for hackers.

As digital transformation gains momentum, more and more business is taking place online and technology continues to proliferate every nook and cranny of industry. Cyber attacks are liable to match this growth, putting business at ever-increasing risk.

-THELMA NGOMA|thelman@thenewage.co.za

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